What a show of caring and respect! Students and staff of Dakota Collegiate epitomized the true meaning of Christmas as they hosted their annual treat for 250 St. Vital Seniors on Nov. 13.
We were greeted by young lads outside the entrance doors and made to feel so very welcome.
"Make sure that our students spoil you — make them work!" the principal playfully urged after we’d settled into our seating. Beverages and trays loaded with dainties soon followed. Many of us would also go home toting ample door prizes given to those who had their lucky numbers drawn.
But who would have "thunk" that seniors aged 80 and 90 and (almost) 100 could stay up till after 9 p.m. and take in a concert?
Was it jazz? Was it pop rock? What did it matter? The conductor, a very bouncy music man, marked time with his whole body bopping, at times tooting a horn and leading his charges in a version of a Beatles favorite. They were having fun and earned our standing ovation.
We also felt the joy in young hearts as the choral/guitar group belted out its songs. We welcomed the opportunity to sing a few carols with them. They also gave us a taste of their musical theatre coming up in spring.
I am informed that as some seniors sat in the lobby that night and waited for their bus to pick them up, a few choir members with carolling books in hand sang with and for them till 9:40 p.m. to help pass the time. A thoughtful, spontaneous gesture.
And I was told that our seniors likewise showed gratitude unrehearsed — for at one table each member gave a big hug to their young server (a true gentleman) while he pulled back their chairs and helped them make their exit.
That evening was a love story with a difference.
How did the idea ever get started?
For information I visited the Dakota principal, Jill Mathez, the next day. It was a proud moment for me, as Jill was once a star student at Varennes School.
I learned that Dakota’s Evening with Seniors program was started back in 1990 by the Black and Gold Society (the Lancer colors).
When they realized their school was surrounded by a host of seniors in nearby housing complexes, students volunteered to help set up programs to bring some holiday cheer into their lives.
For our part, we seniors can’t express strongly enough our appreciation for the honour and kindness shown us by this mini-United Nations of a collegiate with its diversity of students from all corners of the world.
May everyone enjoy a happy holiday season and thrive in good health in the coming New Year.
Anne Yanchyshyn is a community correspondent for St. Vital.