Sometimes, the hectic pace of adulthood gets the better of us, and we lose sight of the things that really matter. Sometimes it takes the honest wisdom of a child to show us what makes the world so beautiful. This was certainly the case at Excel at Woodbury for Rehabilitation and Nursing on April 24, where students read their submissions for an essay writing contest which addressed a compelling prompt: “I am a better person because my grandmother, grandfather or older adult taught me…”
The bright young students hailed from AP Willets Elementary School, South Grove Elementary School and St. Edward the Confessor; and their responses ranged from heartwarming, to poignant, to downright hysterical. By the end of evening, more than a few pairs of eyes needed drying. This was the first event of its kind hosted by Excel, but essay judge and administrator Saul Feintuch sees it as the start of an annual tradition.
“We can’t wait to do this again next year,” said Feintuch of the contest, which recognized 14 talented winners. “It was a tremendous success. These students truly understand what it means to show respect for their elders.”
In a diverse range of prudent responses, these budding writers discussed some of the qualities that make seniors significant figures in their lives. Their essays included touching personal anecdotes, meditations on the importance of family and more than a few tugs on the heartstrings of their audience, made up of parents, grandparents, teachers and principals.
“I’m most proud of the students and the pieces they submitted,” said Theresa Scrocco, principal at South Grove Elementary School. “This was just a very rewarding evening.”
“The staff at Excel just really went above and beyond to make the kids feel special and welcome,” said Kimberly Pratt, fourth-grade teacher at St. Edward the Confessor in Syosset. “The evening was lovely, and I was so proud of my kids for the quality of their writing.”
The authors of the day’s most thoughtful essays received a slew of flashy prizes, including trophies, goodie bags, coupons for Bounce! Trampoline Sports and even a few brand new iPads. The young wordsmiths received their laurels at a glamorous awards ceremony, during which the team of judges, comprised of Excel’s administrative staff, individually recognized the talents and hard work of each participant.
The celebration concluded with an extravagant reception in Excel’s new dining hall, where guests were treated to gourmet snacks, drinks and homemade confections from the facility’s own in-house bakery.
Excel at Woodbury is a boutique nursing and rehabilitation center specializing in short-term rehabilitative care and superior nursing services. The center distinguishes itself by emphasizing personal attention to patients above all else. According to Feintuch, Excel’s sponsorship of this contest was intended to demonstrate the new facility’s commitment to compassionate care.
“At Excel, it’s our job to show compassion to our residents,” Feintuch said. “It’s just so inspiring to see these exceptional kids displaying the same kind of compassion for their friends and families.”