Gray Stone students teach tech at Senior Center

Published 10:33 pm Thursday, March 14, 2019

Gray Stone Day School students volunteered their time at the Stanly County Senior Center Wednesday morning. They were focused on iPhones, laptops and iPads — something with which the students are quite familiar.

Only they weren’t using their own technology; rather, they were using their tech skills to help senior citizens with any problems or questions they might have with their own technology.

As part of the school’s enrichment week, students get to take a break from grades and can partake in different teacher-sponsored activities all around the area.

Mary Branton, first-year social studies teacher, organized several events at the Senior Center this week, culminating with Wednesday’s Technology with Teens event.

Gray Stone students played Mexican train dominoes with the seniors on Tuesday and had a Wednesday morning breakfast with veterans.

Sixteen students signed up for the technology event, Branton said.

Branton contacted Pamela Sullivan, program coordinator at the Senior Center, about a month ago about wanting to have her students interact with the seniors and the two talked about possible ideas and the technology event came up.

“Seniors are always looking for help with their iPhones, iPads, computers all the time,” Sullivan said. “And students are such a great resource…they know all the ins and outs of cellphones and tablets.”

During the event, groups of students were huddled together with seniors helping them with a myriad of different technological problems.

Sophomores Bryson Loflin and Cierra Waisner helped Isabelle Howard log-in to her iPhone and showed her all the setting options.

Howard was appreciative of the help.

“I’m in the first grade when it comes to technology,” Howard joked. “They’re just amazing with their technology.”

Loflin has helped several older family members with technology, including his 97-year-old great-grandmother.

“I’ve gotten to enjoy helping them out and teaching them modern technologies,” he said.

Waisner has always had a knack for helping people and she thought this event would be a great opportunity to help the seniors.

Freshmen Maci Holshouser, Krishna Patel and Stephanie Varbanov helped Phyllis Smith and her husband B.A. Smith load apps onto their Microsoft Surface tablet.

“I think this is a wonderful event and I appreciate Gray Stone trying to help us,” Phyllis said. “And we’re still learning.”

She added she wished the event occurred every month.

Gray Stone students Stephanie Varbanov, Krishna Patel and Maci Holshouser help Phyllis Smith and her husband B.A. Smith load apps onto their Microsoft Surface tablet.

The three students enjoyed getting to interact with other people in the community instead of being at school and liked that they could help the seniors.

Sophomores Caroline LeFloch, Dawkins Reynolds and Chelsea Earnhardt helped a senior turn his Dell laptop on and off, properly back up his iPhone and download the web browser Chrome.

The girls said they enjoy interacting with senior citizens and saw the event as a good service opportunity.

Though there have been technology classes at the center, this was the first time students volunteered their time to help the seniors, said Becky Weemhoff, director of Stanly County Senior Services.

“It’s good for the students to work on their communication with senior adults,” Branton said. “Because I feel that sometimes senior adults get left in the dark and we forget about them. So I want to remind my students that they are important and they are still a vital part of our society.

“Even from talking with the veterans or helping them with their technology, we can learn something from each other.”

About Chris Miller

Chris Miller has been with the SNAP since January 2019. He is a graduate of NC State and received his Master's in Journalism from the University of Maryland. He previously wrote for the Capital News Service in Annapolis, where many of his stories on immigration and culture were published in national papers via the AP wire.

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