Harborfield High School students bring Life Enrichment Center seniors’ stories to life


Harborfield High School students have created a documentary capturing the rich experiences and perspectives of seniors at the Life Enrichment Center at Oyster Bay. The project, spearheaded by senior Lucy MacInnes, aims to bridge the generational gap and showcase the invaluable life lessons that seniors have to offer.

MacInnes, who has been interning as a volunteer at the center, was inspired to create the documentary while digitizing old photos and transcribing seniors’ handwritten stories for a book project. The project, called Silver Threads, is a compilation of the lives and stories of over 30 seniors at the center.

“I realized how much we, as high schoolers, could learn from their experiences,” she said. “I thought that this would be a good way to kind of make talking to seniors and seeing them more accessible, and also help people find that they might also want to volunteer spend more time with seniors.”

After pitching the idea to her teacher and the center’s leadership, MacInnes garnered enthusiastic support. Ann Balderston-Glynn, the center’s head of development and marketing, expressed her excitement about the project.

“I was like, ‘What a fabulous idea’,” Balderston-Glynn said. “From the moment she brought it up we were all very excited and supportive.”

The documentary features interviews with four seniors, including John Cosgrove, a Vietnam War veteran who shared his story for the first time.

“John had always been resistant to talking about his experiences,” said Balderston-Glynn. “But in this project, he opened up, and it was amazing to see him step out of his comfort zone.”

Cosgrove himself described how great an experience it was getting to talk with the students. He added that he credited the center with not only supporting MacInnes and her fellow students, but also with providing a space where he felt happy and comfortable enough to speak about his past.

“I think it was a really great idea, because the students have a lot of questions, but they don’t have a lot of answers,” Cosgrove said. “We have a lot of answers, but nobody asks us a lot of questions.”

The documentary was well-received at a special screening event, where seniors and students gathered to watch the film and engage in a Q&A session.

“It was wonderful to see how the seniors felt appreciated and heard,” MacInnes said. “It was really nice that they all came up afterwards and told us how much they enjoyed it.”

The project also had a profound impact on the students involved. Balderston-Glynn noted that the seniors were moved by the students’ interest.

“They felt hopeful about the future,” she said. “There’s often a perception that younger generations are self-absorbed, but this project showed that they are deeply curious and respectful.”