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Posted February 16, 2017 | 3:42 PM

A Gathering for the Ages

Black History Month bridges generation gap for kindergartners and visiting seniors at Palm River Elementary School

After Sandy Morrison finished reading a book about President Barack Obama to a room full of kindergartners, it was Ernestine Trice's turn to address the children.

Keeping with the Black History Month theme, Ernestine read a book about Ruby Bridges. Would children so young pay attention to a story about a little girl who broke the color barrier at a New Orleans elementary school in 1960?

You bet. Sandy, Ernestine, and four other women from Progress Village Senior Nutrition & Wellness Center had the kindergartners' rapt attention during the recent morning visit to Palm River Elementary School. The women brought books to read and donate to the school. Kindergarten students in four classes gave the seniors patriotic-themed gift bags.

The age gap quickly disappeared.

In Anita Connally's class, her 15 young charges sat on a rug and leaned forward, their eyes open wide, as Ernestine read about Rudy Bridges. "Ruby was just a little girl," Ernestine said, "and she made a difference… Just like all of you make a difference, every day."

It was an unusual morning for the six women, who rave about their activities at the Nutrition & Wellness Center, one of 14 operated by Hillsborough County's Aging Services. They left their homes a little early to ride together to Palm River Elementary. Normally, they don't head out until shortly before 10 a.m. on Wednesdays - for Zumba class.

Before leaving the kindergarteners, Ernestine offered a parting thought: "There's no such thing as a bad child," she said. "Only a child who makes bad choices."

  • B-ROLL VIDEO of the Palm River Elementary School Kindergarten Class is Available Here. (TV Quality)
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Photo Information: Sandy Morrison, left, calls on a student while Ernestine Trice waits her turn to read to Anita Connally's kindergarten class.