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Gunn student "rocks" also have been asked to share their strategies with the national peer-counseling group Sources of Strength for use in schools around the country.

Gunn senior Mia Howard, a co-chair of the ROCK along with Sophia Jiang and Paula Jung, said she joined the organization last year after being inspired by a school-wide assembly following several suicides.

“They didn’t expect to end up speed dating.” And that’s what interests him.

For Loring, these eight women and men – most of them widows and widowers – are his guides as he considers the trajectory of love in older age.

Speed-friending is similar to speed dating, Howard said.

"We tell people about ourselves -- people we'd usually never talk to.

According to Loring, senior speed dating is on the rise; he first came across an event in Florida, where it’s a popular activity among retirees.

The site lists senior speed dating events by state – and there’s no shortage of them.

No contact information is exchanged on the spot, but if there is chemistry, both people are notified by mail and take it from there.

The idea for a senior speed dating film came to Loring after two events hit close to home: One was the unexpected death of his father and the intense loss that his 70-year-old mother felt after the loss of her soulmate.

The other was the head-over-heels first love that his bachelor uncle found when, at almost 80, he moved into an independent living community and fell head over heels for a woman even older than he was.

"During high school people tend to stick to a certain crowd, but speed-friending allows you to open up to eight or 10 people you don't usually talk to.

And it doesn't have to be awkward because everyone's doing the same thing." ROCK was launched in the fall of 2009 after students Joyce Liu and her study buddy Esther Han realized they'd been one another's emotional rock following the suicides.

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