The Agua Fria Union High School District recently brought together its new Senior to Senior program to participate in Read Across America week in conjunction with the Eliseo C. Felix Elementary School and the Avondale Elementary School District.
The Senior to Senior program is a result of a 10-year strategic plan laid out by the Agua Fria district and Superintendent Mark Yslas.
“One of the tenets of the strategic plan was to cultivate community, and what we thought would be a great idea was to try to bridge the generational gap between our students and some of the seniors in our community,” Yslas said.
The program partners high school seniors from the Agua Fria District with senior members of the surrounding community. The partnership helps graduating high schoolers by exposing them to mentors in life, business and education. Seniors in the community get to build lasting intergenerational friendships and practice their mentorship skills.
Yslas said that “it has been just an amazing experience to see them interact and to see them form relationships.”
One of the activities brought on by the Senior to Senior program was a luncheon where the partnered high school seniors put on a workshop for their community senior counterparts on how to use newer cell phones.
“What we thought was going to be a few activities throughout the year to get them together has really turned into an opportunity for them to build lasting friendships,” Yslas said.
Read Across America Week took place earlier in early March, and with the event came a new facet to the Senior to Senior program. The partnered high school seniors and senior community members visited the Eliseo C. Felix Elementary School together to celebrate the birthday of a prolific children’s author.
“The relationship between Agua Fria High School District and Avondale Elementary School District is incredibly close,” said Betsy Hargrove, Superintendent of the Avondale Elementary School District. “When an opportunity came forward to have our Seniors to Seniors program from Agua Fria come participate for Dr. Seuss’ birthday, it was a perfect fit.”
The high school and community seniors were able to even further foster intergenerational friendships and build the connectedness of the Avondale community by spending the day reading with and to elementary school students.
Hargrove said that she and the other superintendents “are always looking for opportunities to be able to engage across our districts, because we believe as our students leave Avondale, they can stay connected with Avondale.”
The Read Across America event and celebration of Dr. Suess’ birthday is set to become an annual tradition, and the superintendents hope that programs like this help to keep the Avondale community strong.
“When we think about having our children envision themselves in the future, we want them to be able to see themselves as full participants in our community,” Hargrove said.
Both Hargrove and Yslas hope that the Senior to Senior program continues to partner with Avondale community schools for events throughout the year to embolden students and community members alike to grow closer and strengthen the city of Avondale.