Generations share their time, stories

It’s easy to hear the faint Southern drawl creep into Audrey Nussvaund’s voice as she takes four Orchard Heights’ third-graders back to her native Louisiana.

“My mother and father were farmers,” Nussvaund said. “We went to church. Every night we’d have a prayer meeting at home. It was a simple life. I raised my children the same way.”

Nussvaund now lives in one of dozens of senior apartments located in Madrona Manor, an assisted-living facility just blocks from the school. She recounts her memories for the students to teach them about the past, and the citizenship of the present and the future.

The students, who have worked tirelessly for months interviewing and visiting community members in hopes of compiling their efforts into a makeshift dossier on Port Orchard to be published later in the spring, are all too willing to sit back and listen.

They walked over in the rain, and asking questions is hard work.

Nussvaund and her three siblings worked her parents’ farm, cultivating corn, sweet potatoes and sugar cane, all of which the family could eat.

She also picked cotton. Nussvaund never finished the eighth grade.

She married in 1947 and had three children — “two girls and a boy.”

Nussvaund moved to Port Orchard in 1974.

“There’s been a lot of changes since I moved here,” Nussvaund said. “They put in a freeway and a lot of strip malls. It was a very small town when I moved here.”

Her goals at this stage: “To be happy where I’m at.”

Another group of students from Mrs. Humphreys’ third grade class are clustered around Alvin Ayers, a 88-year-old, Nebraska-born soldier who regaled the students with tales of his World War II adventures dodging tigers in Burma.

According to Humphreys, the goal of the project is universal — to learn about and appreciate one’s community.

The students have already learned to ride a bus, interviewed Port Orchard Mayor Kim Abel and toured the Port Orchard Police Station.

“It’s so important for the kids to know what’s happening in their community,” Humphreys said. “I want them to leave here knowing they can make a difference.”

A book of articles written by the students with the information they’ve collected will be the shining jewel in this class’s crown.

They plan to donate a copy to the Port Orchard Library so everyone can read up on their year of experiences for many years to come.

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