Kenston schools invite older residents in the community to be involved with their schools.

Senior Moments of Rockin’ Entertainment or S’MORE, allows Auburn and Bainbridge residents who are 60 and older to attend plays and musicals presented by students in the arts, drama and music programs.

They are invited to dress rehearsals, usually the day before the students’ actual presentation to parents, family and other members of the communities.

Ann Randall, retired teacher and former Kenston school board member, started the program in the six years ago when she grew more aware of all the students’ performances and realized how everyone should see this, including those not involved in the schools.

“I thought we needed to showcase our kids better,” Mrs. Randall said. “I thought we have to do something.”

The district has a significant population over 60, and they should be involved so they are more knowledgeable about the schools, she added. “And what better way than showcasing the students’ work.

The first S’MORE program started with a dinner before a play.

“Everyone has said they love it,” she said of those who attend the S’MORES programs. The students and staff put a lot of effort into it. “The events pick up your heart.”

A popular event is the dinner and the spring musical. Students, including those in sports and athletics, the National Honor Society and the Bomberettes, help host and serve dinner. It is free for the seniors because “We use American Express Points to fund the dinners,” said Katy McGrath, Kenston communications director.

Retired Kenston teacher Bill O’Neil and his wife enjoy the programs.

“It’s a way to keep involved with the kids and the school,” said Mr. O’Neil who still teaches Russian one day a week at Burton Elementary School. “I recommend it. It keeps us involved with the school and it’s refreshing. The Christmas concerts are so popular.”

During a production of the musical “Damn Yankees,” students served up baseball food, including hot dogs, Mr. O’Neil said.

Henri and Sue Preuss have attended the S’MORE events since they started. “I like the companionship and renewing friendships,” Mr. Preuss said. They learn how the school is doing.

They attend the students’ dress rehearsals and the students have the advantage of rehearsing in front of an audience, Mr. Preuss said. “The audience sets the tone for the next night,” he said.

Mrs. Preuss said many of the senior residents have had children at Kenston schools and through S’MORE, they have a chance to see the growth at the school and the talent of the students. “It makes you so proud of the school system,” she said.

 “It’s a beneficial to the community and it’s a social gathering,” Mr. Preuss said. And when it is a musical there is outstanding cooperation and work between the drama and music departments and other departments. “They work together to make it happen,” he said. Parents and the students work together as well, he said.

“We talk to the kids and they are so excited, connected and receptive to us,” Mrs. Preuss said. They have lived in Bainbridge for 41 years.

Madeline Skala enjoys the S’MORES events, noting, “It is a wonderful opportunity for seniors in the Kenston community to see all the activities, from plays to musicals and sports. I’m amazed at the talent we have and how the teachers have brought that talent out in the students. We experience their talent and the professionalism of the teachers.”

The upcoming event is the dress rehearsal of the play “Leading Ladies.” A dessert reception starts at 5 p.m. Nov. 9 with a dessert reception in the high school cafeteria and the play at 7 p.m. in the Lee Auditorium, presented by the Kenston Center Stage students.

To learn if there is still space available for Nov. 9, call the school board office at 440-543-9677. There is also the Gold Card program that notifies seniors through emails about upcoming events. With a Gold Card, they are admitted free of charge to any school-sponsored student event. Call the board office to obtain a Gold Card. 

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