The elderly got a special treat for the holiday season.
The Lakeview High School Senior Beta Club traveled to the Cortland Nursing and Rehabilitation Center on North High Street on Dec. 4. Students awaited eagerly outside the nursing home to sing Christmas carols to the residents.
"It brings joy to my heart knowing that I can spread Christmas cheer with all of the elderly," said Amber McCollum, sophomore at Lakeview High School.
Page One / Marissa Snyder
J.J. Mills dressed as Santa Claus, and Tyler Gilmore dressed as an elf.
Many of the students were dressed up in festive apparel such as Santa hats and Christmas ties. Tyler Gilmore, junior at Lakeview, dressed up in an elf costume, while J.J. Mills, also a junior at Lakeview, dressed up as Santa Claus, bag of presents in tow.
When the students entered the building, they were divided into three groups, which went to different areas of the nursing home to sing; each group had a single student to take attendance and two to lead songs. Two groups of students sang through the corridors and knocked on doors asking for song requests. Among the songs that residents could request were "O Come, All Ye Faithful," "Deck the Halls," "Silent Night," "Frosty the Snowman," "Silver Bells" and other Christmas classics. The third group performed in the lobby for residents wanting to sit outside of their rooms.
Angela Sarko, adviser of the club, said after each group sings a substantial amount, they rotate their designated singing positions until all groups have sang in each part of the home. Then, for a grande finale, all students sing together in the lobby.
"I think it gives the students a better understanding of the lives of the elderly," she said.
Sarko said a few years ago, one of the nursing home residents, Henry, who was confined to his bed, requested several songs from the group of students who gathered around his bed. When they finished, he told them how he once had to sing for hospital patients when he was in high school. He said he hated it.
"Now that he was confined to a bed, he said he would give anything to be young again and 'get to sing,'" Sarko said.
"He told them they didn't have to enjoy it, and they don't have to be good at it," she said. "But, they had to do it because being around young people is so important to the nursing home residents."