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P.E.I. students and seniors pair up in unique storytelling project

Grade 11 student Hansen Younker speaks with Whisperwood Villa resident Harold MacDonald as part of a book project between the home and Immanuel Christian School.
Grade 11 student Hansen Younker speaks with Whisperwood Villa resident Harold MacDonald as part of a book project between the home and Immanuel Christian School. - Contributed
CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. —

Despite having 80 years between them, Tristen Good and Arthur Johnson have discovered you’re never too old to make a new friend.

They were one of nine student-and-senior pairings in a storytelling project launched by Immanuel Christian School and Whisperwood Villa this winter.

Each Grade 11 or 12 student was paired with a resident at the villa and tasked with recording and writing their stories over several visits for a book.

Available online for $15, the book is called “Across the Ages: A Compilation of Stories”.

On Monday, the students each read an excerpt from their story.

Johnson told Good he grew up on a farm, doing everything by hand.

The student said Johnson was one of the nicest people he had ever met.

“I met a 97-year-old man with a mind sharper than most people.”

Immanuel vice-principal and teacher Kim Furtney said the goals of the project included learning how to tell an effective story, discovering that everyone has a story of their own, getting better at writing and finding intergenerational friendship.

“We’re really excited about what we’ve created,” she said.

Grade 12 student Tristen Good listens to Arthur Johnson tell stories from his life as part of a book project between Immanuel Christian School and Whisperwood Villa. - Contributed
Grade 12 student Tristen Good listens to Arthur Johnson tell stories from his life as part of a book project between Immanuel Christian School and Whisperwood Villa. - Contributed

Hansen Younker was paired up with Harold MacDonald, who turned out to be a former roommate of his great-grandfather.

“We can learn so much from our elders if we invest the time to listen,” Younker said.

Grade 12 student Ben Keizer relayed a flying story from his senior, Robert McIlwaine, a chartered pilot.

He was flying with two other men when the engine began to rattle.

McIlwaine figured it was a missing spark plug.

“Is that bad?”

The next time they flew, one of the passengers showed up with a spark plug around his neck, “just in case.”

Annabelle Orichefsky wrote about how Carl and Irene Hamm met each other. She wasn’t present on Monday, so Furtney read her excerpt.

Carl had grown up on his grandparents’ farm, while Irene taught accordion 200 miles away. When her family visited his, the matchmaking began.

Carl thought she was beautiful and asked her out. He got his dad’s fancy car for their first date – a movie and a milkshake. They ended up having five kids.

The project was beneficial for the seniors as well, helping them fill the time over the winter months, and the home hopes to do it again next year with a new group of students.

“We really appreciate the time each resident put in with our students,” Furtney said.

The other students involved were Maddie Anderson, Matthew Hogeterp, Isaiah Hogeterp, Alexander Pastoor and Peter VanNieuwenhuyzen. They were paired with Joe Bordage, George Gallant, Murray Lusher, Patricia Bradley and Beryl Fraser, respectively.

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