Program to honor community elders
Published: Thursday, February 21st, 2013
For the last eight years, the Custer community has celebrated the life of many elders and linked many generations together through the Elder’s Wisdom, Children’s Song program. The four honorees share their lives, stories and precious moments with elementary students who then write a narrative and song, with assistance by a songwriter.
“We’re very excited for this year’s program,” said Hank Fridell, program coordinator. “This is one of the events that links the kids and parents in the community to our elders. It’s a great opportunity to celebrate who we are.”
The four honorees this year are Leonard Wood, Eloise Pepin, Bill Tretheway and Marge Baldwin. They have already met with four elementary classes and shared their lives through stories and photographs and gave advice to the students.
“It’s a honor to be a part of this,” said Pepin, who will be honored by Mrs. Trandem’s fourth grade class, assisted by songwriter David Lee Brown. “They asked me about what I like to do and where I grew up. They were amazed I didn’t have running water and used the bathroom outside. It was a lot of fun and I am looking forward to what they come up with.”
“It’s quite a honor,” said Leonard Wood, who is being honored by Mrs. Dahl’s fifth grade class and songwriter Mike Linderman. “We talked about where I live, my time on the ranch, my commissioner days and everything else about my life. I had a great time with them and hope I passed on some wisdom.”
“I feel very humbled. I always felt there were so many people in our community who should receive it more than I,” Tretheway said. “I’m looking forward to it. It is a wonderful experience.”
Mr. Trandem’s fourth grade class, who will be assisted by songwriter Keith Burden, will honor Tretheway.
“They’re such a bright and intelligent bunch of young people. I had a great day with them,” Tretheway said. “They asked me everything from what I was like when I was their age, who my favorite singer was, my hobbies and much more. It gave me a chance to go back and reflect on my childhood, even though it’s hard to remember back that far!”
In the past, Fridell, teachers and the community have discussed nominees for the Elder’s Wisdom, Children’s Song program. This year, however, Fridell asked past elders for their suggestions and received many names.
“We got more than we could handle,” Fridell said. “We had probably 12 to 15 suggestions. It was great. We started talking to people in the community and made the call to those we were interested in.”
Mrs. Bradeen’s fifth grade class, assisted by songwriter Marianne Fridell, will honor Marge Baldwin.
Throughout the eight years, the program has honored 29 people in the community.
“Quite a few people in the community come to the program,” Fridell said. “People want to see who they are. It’s always amazing. You think you know someone, but you don’t. We’ve honored people with amazing pasts. Not only do the elders have a fun time with it, it provides a real connection to kids and the community.”
The Elder’s Wisdom, Children’s Song program will be Tuesday, Feb. 26, at 6:30 p.m. at the Custer High School theatre. Bella Voce, a group of nine sixth grade girls, under the direction of Jody Tennyson, will perform at the program and Mike Paul will be the master of ceremonies. CDs of the program will be available for purchase.
For more information about the program, or to see a list of previous honorees, visit elderswisdomchildrenssongsouthdakota.com.
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