Interact Club

CHS students bring more than tech support to senior center

Carson High School junior Jax Whatley, president of the school’s Interact Club, talks to Maggie Marin at the Carson City Senior Center and gives her advice about using her phone.

Carson High School junior Jax Whatley, president of the school’s Interact Club, talks to Maggie Marin at the Carson City Senior Center and gives her advice about using her phone.
Photo by Jessica Garcia.

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Carson High School Interact Club President Jax Whatley is encouraging more of his peers to go beyond his school’s walls and visit the Carson City Senior Center to give them some assistance with their technological devices.

“As Interact, we’re trying to bridge that disconnect in a lot of different areas of the community,” said Whatley, a junior. “It’s something I noticed early on. Even my grandparents come to me for tech support. … I’d say it’s been a super successful and productive thing. It’s about the interaction behind it.”

Interact, a student club of about 20 members, has been making visits to the senior center since February to help Carson’s elderly population with questions about their computers, phones, tablets, installing apps, finding or deleting photos and awareness of scams.

Bailee Barber, school social worker, Blue Crew adviser and Interact adviser, said a few of her students approached her about starting a club focused on community involvement and service. As they met with Carson City’s Rotary Club, one of the biggest needs to emerge was technology involvement at the senior center, she said.

“We started going back in February and it’s been phenomenal,” she said. “It’s really need of connections for different generations to interact with each other and it’s more about building relationships than anything. (The seniors) come in and just want to chat about their life while we do some, like, ‘This is how you delete photos’ or ‘This is how you download this app’ or ‘This is an update you need to run on your phone.’ But a lot of it is, ‘What are you interested in?,’ ‘This is where I’m from,’ and as a social worker, that’s really beautiful to see.”

Barber said teens often get a “bad rap” for self-involvement or lack of engagement in the community, but Interact has encouraged more youth to connect with seniors, many of whom become isolated at their age as their social relationships change.

Carson City Senior Center Director Courtney Warner called the program “fantastic” for offering new opportunities for seniors to have conversations with students who are genuinely interested in serving them.

“They might have grandkids, they might have neighbor kids, but the relationships change as you age,” she said. “It’s wonderful to have new energy, new life and having students around. And then also, on the other end, we represent the most experienced – our seniors. They can also learn so much — our students can learn from our seniors and their career experiences and life lessons. The relationships can keep going on and on.”

The senior center offers Tech Help hours and a computer lab. Warner said there is a walk-in time and offers two volunteers beyond the Interact students who come in the first and second Tuesdays and fourth Thursday of the month. Seniors can receive assistance about their smartphones, tablets, software including Microsoft Office products such as Word.

“Sometimes there’s a line out the door, sometimes it’s a little slow,” she said. “The biggest thing is if you’re senior and you need help, you can reach out to us.”

But Warner said she appreciated the students being a part of the seniors’ activities at the center, taking note of the conversations she hears among them.

“It’s fun, it’s friendly,” she said. “It’s intimidating to ask for help. … But there’s friendships. It’s like family. It’s wonderful.”


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