Last night, the Anschutz Commons held a packed house as families and visitors came to learn more about Alzheimer's disease at an event hosted by seventh graders. Students became interested in the illness after making friends at Sunrise Senior Living Center during their service-learning project to understand issues that affect the elderly.
2014 was the first year Graland teachers created new science, math, literacy and art curricula to meet student requests for information about Alzheimer's. Working with alumna Anna Newman '11, they organized the awareness night to share what they've learned and to hear from experts in the field while Anna fulfilled an independent study unit at Kent Denver School.
Dr. Huntington Potter of the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus was the featured speaker at the event for the second year.
"It's tremendously gratifying that the next generation is concerned about this disease," he says. "There's no silver bullet that will cure Alzheimer's tomorrow. One of these students might go into medicine or science. They will be voting in a few years and will influence public policy. I'm honored to be here and help this audience understand the mechanisms of Alzheimer's and to clear up some myths."
For example, Alzheimer's is not a natural part of aging; it's a disease. Dr. Potter also discussed the correlation between Alzheimer's and factors such as caffeine consumption, Down's syndrome and rheumatoid arthritis.
On display were 71 "memory boxes," specially designed shadow boxes created by students to honor older family members or friends. Each box contained memorabilia, photos and trinkets and was accompanied by a short biography describing the person's life and achievements. Some who were honored by students were in attendance at the event to enjoy a moment in the spotlight.
"I think this is so neat and really fun," shares Leonard Waldbaum, whose grandson Joey interviewed him for his memory box. "This is great to teach kids an appreciation of the older generation. I was honored to be part of it."
The event was free and included dinner. Donations were accepted to benefit Alzheimer's research at the University of Colorado and a check will be presented to Dr. Potter at a later date.
Special thanks to science teacher Mark Gatlin, learning specialist Nanette Newman and art teachers Cathy Naughton, Andrean Andrus and Andrea Crane for their work in the learning process and event planning that made the Alzheimer's Awareness Event a big success on many levels.
Graland Country Day School is a private school in Denver, Colorado, serving students in preschool, kindergarten, elementary, and middle school. Founded in Denver in 1924, Graland incorporates a rich, experiential learning approach in a traditional classroom setting, emphasizing the development of globally and socially conscious leaders who excel academically.