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Kids connecting

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Crystal River Primary School students make friends with residents of Cypress Cove center

By Mike Wright

CRYSTAL RIVER — Gail Bockiaro urged her fourth-graders to mingle, and Zane Provost made a beeline for Carol Collette.

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Seems Zane and Collette are friends of sorts.

“He was here in the last program and now I get to see him again,” Collette said.

Zane said he and Collette have formed a bond.

“I always go to meet the same person,” he said. “I’ve been telling her about me.”

Bockiaro’s Crystal River Primary School class visited Cypress Cove Care Center last Thursday for a Christmas program. Students read poems and stories, sang songs and handed out Christmas cookies to about 25 residents of the facility.

While having a holiday theme, residents are used to seeing Bockiaro’s class, since she brings students there about once a month. It was the third visit this school year.

“They’re giving back to the community and putting a smile on someone’s face,” Bockiaro said. “Plus, the children learn to speak in public and present themselves well.”

Residents and children alike enjoy the visits.

“I’m really pleased with the teacher for taking the time,” Harriet Jean Sapp said. “We enjoy having them.”

Mary Allen said she looks forward to seeing the students.

“They’re great kids,” she said.

Collette said during the last visit, she and Zane struck up a conversation that continued during the Christmas visit last week.

“He really is involved in school,” she said.

Zane said he’s happy to have met Collette and other Cypress Cove residents.

“I always make new friends when I come here,” he said.

Classmates Amanda Surgent and Ryan Zell agreed.

“The residents don’t get a lot of visitors,” Ryan said. “We get a chance to make them happy.”

Activities director Mae Natteal said the visit from schoolchildren give residents a connection to the outside world.

“They spend most of their time here,” she said.

Ryan said he and his classmates get as much out of the visits as the residents do.

“When other people are happy,” he said, “I’m happy too.”

Contact Chronicle reporter Mike Wright at 352-563-3228 or mwright@chronicleonline.com.