EagleHerald/Rick Gebhard
A large crowd turned out at Senior Citizens Day Thursday at Marinette High School.
EagleHerald/Rick Gebhard

A large crowd turned out at Senior Citizens Day Thursday at Marinette High School.

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MARINETTE — Senior citizens were treated to a morning of entertainment at Marinette High School Thursday at the annual Senior Citizens Day. According to Student Senate Adviser Brenda Blystone, this year’s event was fully funded by the M&M Area Community Foundation.

The auditorium was filled nearly to capacity to start off the morning. The attendees were welcomed by Courtney Anderson and Sam Drees, co-presidents of Marinette’s Student Senate. Members of the Student Senate performed a skit to “Be Our Guest” from “Beauty and the Beast,” and then turned things over to Principal Justine Braatz and Superintendent Wendy Dzurick for other opening greetings.

The Marinette High School Band directed by Hilary Oskey took the stage next, performing the national anthem, the MHS fight song and an arrangement of the Marches of the Armed Forces to honor the veterans in all branches of the military. This was followed by “America the Beautiful,” as well as a short collection of songs from the ‘50s, ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s and the Northern Michigan University fight song.

Cyndee Giebler brought the high school chorale and chamber choir out after the band and performed a few wintry songs, and afterwards lead the entire audience and the choir in “This Land is Your Land.”

After the performances, everyone filtered into the library for a few rounds of bingo and lunch.

“The theme and the menu are always different, and the performances are always different,” Drees said. “But we always feed them and we always play bingo.”

“We keep the same order; they seem to like it, we just do a different theme and the band and choir do different songs,” Anderson said.

Drees said the Student Senate has separate committees, and one of the largest ones is the Senior Citizens Day committee. “There’s about 40 people on it,” he said.

Anderson said spots for each of the Student Senate’s committees are given on a first-come, first-served basis, and this one is one that all of the students enjoy being a part of. “I just like talking to everybody in the community; learning about their past, hearing advice and learning about what’s going on with them.”

And, of course, the seniors who attend love it, too. Betty Kewley of Marinette has been to about five Senior Citizens Days so far. For her, what stands out most is the entertainment. “It’s wonderful how they put things together to entertain us. It’s been a marvelous thing over the years, that they respect the elders in their community like that,” she said.

There were also a fair amount of newcomers this year. Among them was Jeanette Micksch, who said she was so impressed with how well the students treated the seniors who came. She said, “We always hear so many negative things about this generation, but the kids here today are really impressing me. They’re very positive and they’re enjoying themselves; I’m just tickled!”

The event has been so successful over the years that it’s even been attracting attention from outside the area. Brad Potter, the principal at Merrill High School in Merrill, Wis., said his mother is from Marinette and has been coming for a few years after his niece invited her to come. He said his mother came to visit one day and was talking about how much she loved it. “I listened to her and didn’t go anywhere with it. And then in late summer in Merrill, we were talking about strategies to better engage the community, and this came to my mind,” he said.

He said that in many communities, many senior citizens may often feel more removed or disengaged from the school. “As people go through life, the bigger the gap gets between senior citizens and high-schoolers, the more misunderstandings and preconceived notions, some of them negative, take place,” he said.

After coming and seeing how well Senior Citizens Day in Marinette went, Potter said he plans to host a similar event at Merrill High School later this winter.