Wednesday, December 17, 2014

ACE Students Spread Cheer to Local Nursing Home

ACE students passing out Christmas cards.
Students in the ACE Program at the MISD Alternative Education Center spread some Christmas cheer Wednesday to a local nursing home—proving that you should never judge a book by its cover.

The ACE Program provides an alternative learning environment for students ages 17 to 21 wanting to receive a high school diploma, whose age and academic performance indicate that he or she has not benefited from the traditional educational setting.

Students and staff visited the Mansfield Nursing and Rehabilitation Center to pass out refreshments, stuff stockings with snacks and gifts, pass out Christmas Cards, make glitter snowflakes, decorate the residents’ rooms, and sing Christmas carols.

It’s an annual tradition that has been going on for five years.

Science Teacher Sally McClure getting into the holiday spirit
with the students.
Sally McClure, teacher and science department chairperson at the Alternative Education Center, said there is very little opportunity for the students to get recognized for something positive, so they get excited for events like this one.

“There’s a transformation that happens within the kids when they come here,” said McClure. “I love watching these kids—who have been written off by some people—turn around and put a smile on the face of a person who really needs a friend.”

The transformation could be seen in the faces of the nursing home residents as well. For a majority of them, the students were the only visitors they will receive in a very long time.

“70 percent of the residents here have no family,” said Gene Compton, administrator for Mansfield Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. “Today, I can see hope in their eyes and connections being made with the younger generation.”

Senior Devin Settle helping a resident make a snowflake.
Senior Devin Settle was just one of many students who showed an outpouring of love and support to the residents. It was an emotional experience for him.

“I loved being able to touch the hearts of these people," said Settle. “It choked me up a little. It’s sad to see that they don’t have support, but that’s why we’re here today.”

To encourage the ACE students to continue in a path of positivity after the two-hour visit, Compton gave the students a message he hopes will stick with them.

“Always remember that you can achieve your goals, even if people put barriers in front of you.”