The Senior:Senior project connected Pratt High School Seniors with senior citizens and produced stories and photos the students created about the senior citizens.

A unique cross-generation project is on display at various locations in downtown Pratt. Senior:Senior is a project the brings seniors at Pratt High School and senior citizens together to produce a short story and photo of the senior citizen and put both on display at various locations in downtown Pratt.

Senior:Senior is the brain child of Dennis Hodges of the Pratt Area Arts Coalition who got Pratt High School, Pratt Community College and the Pratt Convention and Visitors Bureau working together to produce the displays that officially go on display today, Dec. 2 with a kick off ceremony at 11:30 a.m. at the Chamber Office.

The goal of this project, that runs that same time as the downtown art walk, is to make art unavoidable in Pratt and this project is a classic example of that goal, Hodges said.

Hodges said he heard of the concept at a conference and he like the idea of pairing cross generations of high school seniors and senior citizens for a transfer of knowledge and to record oral histories.

Hodges made contact with Vincent Poturica, a PCC English instructor who was already teaching a composition class at PHS, and they decided to pursue the project and make it come to life.

The call went out for senior citizens and 75 names quickly came in. Then local professional photo grapher Stan Reimer was asked to give a crash course in portrait photography to the 19 students in the class. Reimer condensed 40 years of picture experience into a one hour crash-course session on taking portraits. The students had experience taking pictures and selfies with their phones but portrait photography is a different matter.

"It (photo session) was great. Stan focused on the key elements of photography," Hodges said.

For these students, it was the first time for taking this type of picture. While they were amateurs, they did their best and a couple of photos were really, really nice, Hodges said.

Poturica and Hodges worked with the students to develop a list of questions for the interviews. They wanted to know why the person had come to Pratt, why they decided to stay and what were some special memories of Pratt. Some students interviewed relatives while others worked with people they had never met, Poturica said.

"Credit goes to the students for letting us try out this assignment on them," Poturica said. "They really ran with it. It put them outside their comfort zone and got them talking to complete strangers."

Students had to record a couple of recollections the seniors wanted to save. The students hear some very colorful stories, some were funny, some were tragic but it was in senior citizens words. Students had to evaluate the interviews and analyze them for the truth of the oral history and reflections on the memories of the person.

Once the stories and photos were taken, Valarie Dellrocco, PCC art instructor, volunteered to produce large size prints of the stories and photos that are on display in downtown stores.

"I appreciate Valarie and he willingness to produce materials to be shown downtown," Poturica said.

As part of the classroom work for the project, the class reviewed other oral histories including from the Greensburg tornado on May 4, 2007, the Holocaust, the Challenger Disaster and the March on Washington.

The result of Senior:Senior is 16 displays in downtown windows that can be viewed and read from the street. Each display has a map of all the stores displaying the projects. Besides getting people to view the projects, it is also on display to get customers to visit the stores.

"We're trying to help commerce with art," Hodges said.

With 75 names to choose from, Hodges said he would like to see this become an annual event. It's an opportunity he doesn't want to lose because its fun and captures life in Pratt.

Poturica said if the project continues, it might get students from Dellrocco's art class to take the pictures to get more students involved.

Cooperating business for Senior:Senior are Skaggs Ace Hardware, Mike's Rent to Own, Stitch by Stitch, Memories, Bolen Office Supply, Pratt Area Chamber of Commerce, Simply Southwest, Sue's Ultimate Embroidery, N' Cahoots, Office Solutions, Parson's Jewelry, Sears, Fabulous Finds, Pratt Public Library, Vernon Filley Art Museum and Photo Gallery. Maps are on display at every participating business.

@GaleR_Tribune