Why a Boston Suburb Combined Its High School and Senior Center

Cross-posted from CityLab

By Amy Crawford

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Photo by: Richard Mandelkorn

“You’ll have to excuse us, because we’re about to serve lunch, and it’s total chaos,” says Marilyn Hurwitz, striding through the busy lobby of the Swampscott Senior Center toward a multipurpose room where some three dozen elderly women and a handful of men sit waiting for their salmon fillets, spinach salads, and split-pea soup.

The ladies—who, in the gracious style of their generation, wear skirts and stockings, accessorized with lipstick and tasteful jewelry—sit chatting, their walkers and canes parked nearby. But should lunch be late, Hurwitz assures me, they are capable of creating a ruckus.

“You should see the poker games,” she says.

A tendency toward unruly cafeteria behavior is one thing the senior citizens in Swampscott, a seaside Boston suburb, have in common with the town’s youth, but it’s not the only thing. In fact, the airy 7,500-square-foot facility that hosts their knitting circles, card games, and exercise classes shares space with the local high school.

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