High Point’s Fourth Graders Regale the British Home with Songs of the Gold Rush Era

 Forty-Niners Brave the Pouring Rain to Entertain at Historic Assisted Living Residence

 By Norma Richman

 “It was important to go because they don’t get to see children often since they’re living with adults. It made me feel good after I saw how happy they were. My favorite part was meeting other people. They had interesting lives. One lady was a dancer on Broadway. A lot of the elderly were joking with everybody, and I thought it was a good trip.”—Kingsley S.

After trying out their playlist on parents, thirty-eight students in Becky Lievense’s and Karla Yulo’s classes donned straw hats and bandanas to do a reprise of historic songs at the British Home in Sierra Madre. High Point’s social studies curriculum includes a collaboration with music teacher Doris Wang while studying California’s 1849 Gold Rush, and the joy of spreading cheer to others is part of the school’s Community Engagement program—a perfect meeting of the minds. . . and miners!

Students wore masks to protect the residents and headed indoors this year due to a historic storm. Even so, the dining room was abuzz with mingling miners who belted out songs such as California, Shenandoah, Banks of Sacramento, and Oh! California. The crowd pleasers, it seems, were Banks of Sacramento and Oh! California.  Aron B. noted, “At first, I kind of felt a little nervous about the singing because we might mess up or they might not like it. They ended up liking it. A man even applauded. I enjoyed visiting, and it might be the highlight of their year. It’ll bring some positive spirit to their lives since the purpose of the British Home is to give elderly people a place to live and to socialize and learn new things.”

Natalie W. added, “It’s important to teach kids to do service. It’s also impacting other people to be kind—like being kind and picking up someone’s jacket for them at school. I liked talking to the people at the British Home. It was really fun and made me feel happy. Some of them were singing along with us.”

Reflecting on the value of community service, Scarlette C. commented, “I think it’s important to do community service like going to the British Home because the elderly may not get to see kids and it’s something for them to look forward to. I liked it. It felt good and I was glad that they got to interact with us. I really liked talking to them. I didn’t know what to expect, but it was really fun to do. Everybody was so nice.”

Teacher Karla Yulo summed up the learning experience for the children: “It went well! The students were so flexible with the changes due to the weather. They were so sweet while mingling with the elderly, and they really enjoyed getting to know them.”

The British Home is an American owned 501(c)(3) corporation and is licensed to accommodate 41 residents. The Daughters of the British Empire (DBE) in the USA purchased the property in 1930 and opened the historic landmark a year later. Known for once hosting Queen Elizabeth, the home retains its historic uniqueness. Today, the British Home reflects a typical retirement home populated by a diverse group of citizens and residents of many nationalities and walks of life.

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