Key Club is bridging the generational divide

They’re throwing a disco-themed ‘Senior’ Senior Prom


The Malverne High School Key Club members fostered a connection with the elders at Atria Tanglewood, a senior living facility in Lynbrook, bridging a generation gap while learning valuable lessons.

“Not only are the seniors excited to have the high school students come in and spend some time with them,” said Robin Calcagno, the club advisor, “But to actually see the high school students excited to be there with the seniors as well — I don’t know who was more alight at the time.”

“They were excited to tell other people about their lives,” said Malverne senior Isabella Ramharakh. “I think they just wanted to tell us more and more as we kept on talking to them.

“I think that us being there really connected with them.”

This is the first year since 2020 that the students were able to visit the senior home. The students and seniors played games, worked on puzzles, and even played a game of Jeopardy featuring 50s and 70s trivia. The students also showed a presentation that invited the residents to share their memories of the trends, sports and entertainment of their youth.

Talking with the seniors showed Nathaly Uribe, a junior in the club, the rich lives the seniors led. To her, it was a lesson in perspective. During a recent visit to Atria Tanglewood, she said, there was a ping pong tournament — and there was one woman who absolutely no one could beat.

“She was saying how ping pong also created this relationship with her son, and it always reminded her of her son,” Uribe said. “And to me, that was so heartfelt. And I really saw the connection — that when she played ping pong, she was always remembering her son as well.

“And with that, I kind of learned that with older people that — it's kind of weird to say but, they had lives before talking to us right now. They led these full, entire different lives.”

Though the teens of the Key Club and the seniors of Atria Tanglewood were born in completely different eras, they found connection across the generational gap.

“We learned that they never stopped learning,” Coleene Elias, a junior, said. “They always give us good advice for our lives, but they also ask us for things that we’re interacting with, and things that we’re seeing, because they feel like even though they’re older, they can still learn from the younger generation.”

This is the club’s first year as an official Key Club. Prior to connecting with Kiwanis this year, the club was a general community service organization. But they were still just as focused on giving back — they hosted blood drives and cleanups of Hempstead State Lake Park. Each event teaches the students something new. Uchie Alozie, a senior, said her personal favorite was the babysitting night they hosted for the community.

“I got to see almost two contrasting elements to community service, because I worked with kids and then I worked with some seniors,” Alozie said. “It really shows that no matter who you're serving to, it's still really important to do community service.”

This is only the beginning of the Key Club’s relationship with the elders at Atria Tanglewood. They’re hosting a “Senior” Senior Prom, at Atria, in May. The theme of the party? 1970s disco, by a unanimous vote from the seniors.

“Having a celebration like that, it gives them a chance to be more social,” said sophomore Dayami Guaman. “And also gives them the opportunity to go back in the day, where they’re able to have fun and just interact with other people and us high schoolers too.

“I just think it’ll be a really great experience for them, it’ll just give them the opportunity to feel like teens again.”

In the meantime, the students continue to focus on other ways of helping the people around them, and encouraging others to do the same. They’re currently organizing a blood drive in March. The last one was an all-time high for participation, and they’re confident they can get more donors.

Key Club “really taught me that giving is so important,” Ramharakh said. “Helping others is a part of life that you have to do. And you don't just do it for yourself, but you do it for others. You do it so that other people can experience the help that you want to give.”