CANTON — Gwen Bubier felt pretty Monday morning. Stephanie Dyer, a senior at Buckfield Junior-Senior High School, had painted her fingernails a bright pink.
Bubier’s husband, Walter, age 90, was also pleased that a group of students from the school had chosen to spend their first Day of Caring at the Victorian Villa Rehabilitation and Living Center leading bingo games, chatting, and sharing lunch.
“They are nice students and are doing a nice job,” he said.
His daughter, Cheryl Parker, also a resident at the home, was sitting at the same table with her parents and several students. She smiled as they sat down.
The students, too, were enjoying their experience.
“I wanted to see an old folks home. It’s not boring,” senior Oliver Hill said.
Oliver had shared lunch with residents. She also did some maintenance on machines at the center.
Foreign exchange student Aisha Atkeeva had never played bingo before and had not visited a rehabilitation center.
“The people are really interesting,” she said as she wheeled one of the women to a table.
Adviser and art teacher, Mary Beth Eichorn, said she was awed by the amount of respect and patience her students had shown the residents.
“They are very patient,” she said.
The Day of Caring was organized by science teacher and adviser Kay Herbert.
“We have talked for years about including a service learning component in the school’s advisory program,” she said. “This is the year. It’s important for kids to learn gratification from doing service for people.”
Senior Raina Handler liked listening to the stories told by the residents, particularly one about logging by the wife of a logger.
BJSHS does not require a number of volunteer hours as part of graduation, but all participants, from grade seven to 12, will receive a certificate for their portfolio.
She expects that her school will eventually require service for graduation. Dirigo High School, which is also part of RSU 10, already does. Mountain Valley High School in Rumford, also in RSU 10, is thinking about it.
Neighboring Telstar High School in Bethel also requires a certain number of volunteer hours for graduation.
While some students visited and helped at the rehabilitation center, many others fanned out to various places in Sumner, Hartford and Buckfield, including the school, town office, Hartford beach, the Oddfellow Theater, and several other places.
Some, such as senior Kasey Robertson, helped weed the town of Buckfield’s flower garden and replaced stones around the town’s gazebo.
“I think it’s a really good idea. It gets everyone involved,” he said.
Classmate Collin Miclon agreed.
“This is a good way to get students to be enthusiastic about community service,” he said.
Herbert hopes to make service learning day an annual event.