Seneca Valley senior project draws a fine line at retirement community

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There was a little bit of the Wild West and a whole lot of toe tapping at the Sherwood Oaks retirement community in Cranberry thanks to one Seneca Valley High School senior.

The residents recently were treated to a "Hoedown Throw Down," which was planned by 17-year-old Taylor Cready, a Cranberry resident finishing up her senior project for graduation.

Taylor works as a server at Sherwood Oaks, and hosting an event for the residents seemed to be a natural fit when she was seeking a project.

"It just kind of popped into my head," said Taylor, who focused the earlier part of her project, which involved writing an essay, on health care. She said after graduation she plans to study nursing at Ohio State University.

Taylor said she initially planned to only teach new line dances to residents, but after discussing the idea with her supervisor, Jesse Komara, the idea grew into an entire theme night.

Mr. Komara, the service and catering manager at Sherwood Oaks, said the last Wednesday of each month is usually reserved to honor residents' birthdays. They decided to incorporate Taylor's project into that event on Feb. 27, coming up with a Western-themed night.

He said Taylor helped plan the menu -- which included "cowboy" pasta, fried chicken and Lynchburg lemonade -- found decorations and organized the staff into Western wear.

"I think she did an amazing job. She followed a time line and was well prepared," Mr. Komara said.

Taylor even spent time before that evening with residents who meet on Wednesday nights to line dance. The group's leader, 95-year-old Virginia Barrett, said they usually get about 10 people together and line dance for an hour on Wednesday nights.

More than 30 people showed up the night Taylor took over class to dance and observe. She led them in the San Antonio stroll, angel two step and cut a rug line dances.

Taylor stuck around to do some more line dancing with the residents after her portion of the program was over.

Mark Bondi, Sherwood Oaks president and chief executive officer, said they encourage the employees to interact with the residents.

"Several years ago we asked employees what they liked best about working at Sherwood Oaks and I was very pleased, but not surprised, that most responded by saying the residents," Mr. Bondi said.

He said the residents are happy to have the pupils around, and they have in the past organized a youth day and provided nearly $400,000 in scholarship grants to employees.

"I think that these relationships help everyone involved," Mr. Bondi said.


Laure Cioffi, freelance writer:


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