Mon. Dec 4th, 2023

Fair Oaks Elementary.jpg

Fair Oaks Elementary School in Henrico County.

Even in a pandemic that’s kept school children out of the classroom and seniors from venturing too far from home, residents of Cedarfield, a retirement community in western Henrico, and students at Fair Oaks Elementary in the eastern end of the county, have found a way to connect.

Cedarfield residents read stories aloud on camera, the recordings are then transferred electronically to the school, where teachers select which ones they want to share with their students, who then watch and listen and complete assignments related to the books.

The partnership began in November and continued in December with another round of story times and now appears ready to expand into other areas such as art and writing skills.

Cedarfield volunteers such as Betty Hayter were thrilled to be involved, but the virtual nature of the project made it something of a leap of faith.

“They give you a book, you come in, sit down and wonder what on earth they’re seeing with this little camera,” said Hayter, who has twice read books on camera. “You wonder what the children see and if it makes sense to them.”

The short answer? It does, and then some.

“It’s been wonderful,” said Jackie Stevens, associate principal at Fair Oaks, who made the connection to Cedarfield through a friend. “It has bonded east with west, young with old. These are groups that wouldn’t normally run in the same circles, so it’s expanding horizons. It’s incorporating education along with fun.

By senior