During their last visit for the school year, students with the Tuloso-Midway Academic Career Center recently planted poppies with visitors to the West Guth Park Senior Center.
Patsy Matejek has lived in the Tuloso-Midway area for more than 40 years. As a volunteer at the senior center, Matejek has seen first hand the effects visits from T-M students have had on the elderly visitors each month.
"It's very rewarding having them here. We need inter-generational projects and this is one of them. We all enjoy it," Matejek said.
Many of the students who attend TMACC have not had an easy road in life, TMACC paraprofessional and activities liaison Christine Hay said.
"Some of them previously left school, and we brought them back," Hay said. "It's tough, but they're committed to working hard and completing school. They want to succeed, and they're making the most of this opportunity."
Students attend the school for a variety of reasons Hay said. Reasons range from difficulty in a traditional classroom setting, to problems passing the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills exam. Students in the program are able to work at their own pace to complete courses they may be lacking.
Mary Nava has been coming to the senior center for nearly two years. She said having the young people around reminded her of her own sons, who were both Tuloso-Midway High School graduates in the early 90s. She said the students who come out of TMISD are a cut above the rest.
"Oh, I love it. They are so respectful," Nava said. "Both my sons graduated from there and I wouldn't have it any way else. They take care of the kids there in alternative and pay attention to them. That's what counts. That's what a lot of them need."
Nava chatted with students, as well as her friend, Piedad De La Cerda. Cerda has attended the center for the last three years, and despite the loss of fingers from her right hand, she is expertly adept at needlepoint.
"Nothing stops her," Nava said. "She's very good at everything she does. She's amazing."
During their monthly visits this year, the students have participated in a number of events, including Christmas and Easter celebrations, and the recent gardening endeavor. The students also help out by organizing games with the elderly visitors, and spend time talking to them about their lives and their families.
For TMACC sophomore Amy Davila, working with the elderly is an entirely new experience, as she does not have any elderly relatives to relate to.
"I just enjoy getting to know them better," Davila said. "This is all new to me. They're all just so happy when we come here. Their faces light up and that makes me happy. It makes me want to keep visiting here."
Classmate Marcus Perez said working with the elderly is something he has had an interest in since helping to care for his own grandmother, Gloria Lopez.
Perez said eventually he'll get old, and he wants to live his life without regrets, so he can say he did everything before his old age.
"This experience makes me want to try and do more at a young age. Live life to the fullest," Perez said.