Spotlight

The Senior Spotlight book will include the first four years (from 2015-2018) of images and narratives students have created about the lives of senior citizens in Decatur and Lyons. From left to right: Dwane Piere by Cassidy Farrens; Cindy and Arlen Kempke by Brandi Simonsen, and Dennis Schlichting by Layne Miller.

Local history and culture shared by students and senior citizens will soon be available in the form of a book.

Each year senior students at Lyons-Decatur Northeast showcase the lives of local senior citizens through the Senior Spotlight project. Students create large scale portraits and narratives of senior citizens that have gone on display on Main Street Lyons and at the Decatur Sears Center. The project is facilitated by high school principal Weston Swanson and Lyons resident Jamie Horter. Swanson said, “I have really enjoyed working with our senior students and community members! The work our students create is something they can be proud of and I believe it is very meaningful to their community.”

Four Years of Stories

After four years running, these stories and portraits will be compiled into a book publication and online archive. Horter said about the project, “We were being asked what was happening to the works after the receptions and if there was a way the public could access them. Now these stories will be preserved for generations to come.”

The Senior Spotlight book will cover the first four years of spotlights, from 2015-2018. Sixty-six student authors from these four years and their spotlights of over 70 seniors will be featured.

Horter added, “Since we started this program, some of those involved in Senior Spotlight have passed away. This book will be one way to keep their memory alive.”

Fundraising in Progress

Generous support from local donors, the Mid-America Arts Alliance, and the National Endowment for the Arts makes this project possible. This funding helps provide a copy of the book to each interviewed senior citizen and any student author who would like one. Additional books will be priced to cover the cost of publishing. “Our fundraising goal is for anyone to own this beautiful book for no more than $30. We’re thankful to all the support so far to help us get closer to that goal,” said Horter.

Additional fundraising is needed to cover the cost of publishing. An account has been created with the Lyons Community Foundation. Anyone who wishes to help can make donations to the Lyons Community Foundation with the note “Senior Spotlight.” Donations can be dropped off at First Northeast Bank of Nebraska in Lyons. 

Created for Seniors

Accessibility is a main part of the project. “The books will have larger font sizes to make it easier for more people to read. Copies will be available to check out at each town’s libraries. And an online archive will be set up for those who would like to view these works online,” said Horter. Whether owning a book of their own, going to the library, or viewing online, anyone will be able to access past Senior Spotlight works.

Pre-Order Starts Now

Book pre-orders are being taken now. Printing will commence this fall, followed by a public celebration in Decatur and Lyons. “We want to be sure to order enough books for anyone who wants them, so we hope people pre-order to help give us a better estimate,” said Swanson.

The final price will be $20-30, depending upon the final total order. To learn more details and reserve a book, stop by any of these locations:

Lyons-Decatur Northeast

First Northeast Bank of Nebraska

Lyons Public Library

Decatur Sears Center

Preorders will be taken until Oct 3. Only a limited number of additional books will be ordered for sale. To guarantee your copy, please place a pre-order.

The Program Continues

Now in its fifth year, the Senior Spotlight program continues. A new year of spotlights will be featured on Sept. 24, 6:30 pm on Main Street Lyons. The public is invited to attend.

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