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'Seniors celebrating Seniors' program brings high school seniors and senior citizens together

An unlikely virtual friendship that connected a high school graduate and a resident at a senior living facility was made during the coronavirus pandemic.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, keeping our distance from one another has become important in stopping the spread. During this time of self-isolation, two women found each other virtually and formed an unlikely friendship.  

Neola Waller, a resident at Westminster Canterbury on Chesapeake Bay, signed up for the "Seniors Celebrating Seniors" program. A way for senior citizens and soon-to-be graduates of Cox High School to connect and celebrate the high school students' achievements upon graduating.

"We knew the graduating seniors were deprived of the excitement that goes on with the actual ceremony, so this was a way we as senior citizens could reach out and talk to them," Waller said.

Waller signed up to be one of the Westminster Seniors because of her love for teaching. Her love for students goes back 30 years to when she started teaching mathematics at Cox High School in Virginia Beach. Through the program, Neola Waller met graduating senior Alexandria Pizzano, who is set to attend Old Dominion University in the fall.

"I could see her and she could see me and we related right away. We talked about her, her dreams, her family and what she wants to become and also about her going to Old Dominion," Waller said.

"It's really hard to connect with people during COVID, so during this time, the retirement facility came up with this idea to connect with someone older, who had more experience in life rather than someone my own age who may be experiencing the same things," Pizzano said.

Waller being a teacher at Cox High School enabled her and Alexandria to connect on another level. 

"Your teachers are those people you rely on for 12 years, even longer if you go to college, so I feel it was a lot easier to connect knowing she was a teacher," Pizzano said.

After weeks of talking over the Birdsong Tablet provided by Westminster Canterbury, Waller and Pizzano finally met face to face this week.  A newfound friendship they intend to nurture for as long as they can.

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