AST is back at Cantata!


John Beasley

Students gather with the residents of Cantata (taken pre-pandemic). Photo courtesy of John Beasley.

Emma Lopez, Staff Reporter

Recently, the Association of Students for Tolerance (AST) was granted the green light to visit the elderly at Cantata Home Services. AST is set to make their first visit of the year on Wednesday, February 9, 2022, after the surge in late 2021 ceased their visits. 

Mr. Beasley is the Sponsor for AST, which began to visit the elders at Cantata 12 years ago. 

“We were looking for a regular partnership with a senior citizen group just to provide an outlet for community service,” Beasley said.

While the first visit can commence with a sense of nervousness, the experience one has with the senior citizens is what makes it all worthwhile.

“You walk in…it’s like a fishbowl. Everyone looking at you, and that can feel awkward at first, but then you start realizing that your presence is the highlight of the day for a lot of people,” Beasley said.

Alyssa Krivak is a senior at RB, and she joined AST during her sophomore year. She continues to visit the elderly at Cantata in her final year at RB.

“After I went a couple of times, I loved it. Seeing people and seeing how happy they would be when we’d come in and be with them because they’re all on their own there…and it actually inspired my major because I’m majoring in nursing,” Krivak said. 

At Cantata, AST is not the only group that visits the elderly, but AST encourages other groups to join them during their visits. 

“We’ve also brought in groups, so we’ve brought in OLAS to do Lotería. Hip Hop once did a dance routine for them. We had the Girls’ Basketball one time, they came in and did charades,” Beasley said, “We do things like play charades, Pictionary, some people do Scrabble. There’s a woman I did Scrabble with for many, many years who lived to be 102; she was still beating me at Scrabble.”

The students have also aided the elderly during activities.

“So we would do bowling…it was great because we had this thing that we would set up, and we would hold the bowling ball for them, so they could just push it…I loved seeing how happy they were with it,” Krivak said. 

Seasonal activities also occur throughout the year at Cantata. 

“During Christmas, we could put up Christmas trees,” Krivak said, “We’re doing a special thing for Valentine’s Day; we’re going to make Valentines for them.”

Claire Schroeder joined AST during her junior year, and she began visiting the senior citizens at Cantata during the autumn of her senior year.

“They are also very talkative and always want to know more about us when we visit. I love hearing their stories as we play card games because it allows me to experience another generation through the lens of one person,” Schroeder said, “Being able to share stories with members of another generation allows the younger generation to experience what it was like and also learn from that person’s experiences.”

Although there is an age difference between those at Cantata and the students, the senior citizens have more in common with the students than one might think. 

“When you start laughing and start enjoying and start appreciating the fact that they have cliches, and they have groups, and they have predispositions just like we all do, and they say sarcastic, funny things like we do,” Beasley said.

Despite the contrasts both the elders and students have, they’re able to see eye-to-eye. 

“We talk to the residents about our lives and their lives as we play these games, and then we compare our lives from the past to the present. The elders are always interested to hear about modern trends or what schools are like now,” Schroeder said. 

As the AST students continue to visit the elders at Cantata, connections proceed to spark between the two parties.

“I think that when we come, there’s this bond between younger students and the elderly. We just form this fun connection where they don’t care what they say, and we love it…I like seeing how happy they get when they have visitors,” Krivak said.