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Students switch to Zoom for traditional visit to senior home

Lowell — A first-grade tradition at Murray Lake Elementary School, like so many others this year, had to switch to a digital event — but students didn’t want to miss the chance to spread holiday cheer to their neighbors at Fountain View Assisted Living. 

Teacher Denise Washburn’s first-graders spent part of Friday afternoon on a Zoom call with residents of the senior living facility’s memory care unit. Her class usually visits Fountain View in October, December and at the end of the school year to play games, sing and do crafts with residents.

“We knew we wouldn’t be able to visit this year, but have felt disconnected from such an important part of our first-grade experiences,” said Washburn. “We are grateful for the technology to be able to connect in some small way.” 

During Friday’s visit, the students each introduced themselves and shared what they were hoping to get for Christmas — like the wish “that COVID would go away.” After introductions, some students told winter-themed jokes and then the whole class joined together to sing four holiday songs for the appreciative audience.

Watching from their own rooms, the Fountain View residents laughed at several of the silly jokes and sang along with the songs they knew.

“It was a wonderful experience and brought some much-needed Christmas cheer to Fountain View and to our Murray Lake first-grade classroom — I love their hearts,” said Washburn. “We are hoping to Zoom again after the holidays, play a game together and maybe share some of our own writing pieces.”

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Beth Heinen Bell
Beth Heinen Bell is a reporter and copy editor, covering Rockford, Lowell, Grandville and Cedar Springs. She is an award-winning journalist who got her start as the education reporter for the Grand Haven Tribune. A Calvin University graduate, she later returned to her alma mater to help manage its national writing festival and edit and write for enrollment communications. Beth has also written for The Grand Rapids Press, Fox 17 and several West Michigan businesses and nonprofits. She is fascinated by the nuances of language, loves to travel and has strong feelings about the Oxford comma. Read Beth's full bio

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