Schools honor grandparents
Katie Duke proudly approached her grandmother in Mize Elementary School's cafeteria Friday afternoon carrying a purple and pink gift bag.
Inside that bag, her grandmother, Ruth Pence of Raytown, Mo. found a blanket with a picture of an angel and the words "My Grandma is my guardian angel."
"She knows I love angels and I collect angels," Pence said. "I didn't know I'd be getting a gift."
Duke's gift to her grandmother was just one special moment in Riverview and Mize elementaries' Grandparents' Day celebrations Sept. 5. The events recognized national Grandparents' Day, which is celebrated each year on the first Sunday after Labor Day.
Riverview Elementary had the grandparents of third graders visit from 9:30 to 11 a.m., separating each of the five classes into stations. In these stations, the 87 students gave their grandparents a tour of the school, interviewed them about their childhood, read to them, or played a word scramble game using the letters from the word "grandparents."
At the interview station, Trent Krause learned a few things about his grandmother, Donna Lee Kalin of Russell, Kan., that he didn't know before. One question asked what her favorite toy was as a child, and Kalin answered "stilts."
"He didn't even know what stilts were," Kalin said.
Kalin happened to be watching Krause while his parents were out of town and didn't have to make the 250 mile drive from Russell that day, but many grandparents came long distances just for Grandparents' Day.
Neil and Jean Andres, Alta Vista, Kan., drove an hour and a half to come to their second Grandparents Day at Riverview for their granddaughter, Kylie. Jean Andres said she appreciated that the day allowed them to see how their grandchildren spent their days at school."They ask questions that a lot of times they don't when they come to visit," Jean said.
Sherrill Hilbert, Overbrook, Kan., said her other grandchildren live almost four hours away, so she was glad she was able to come and participate with her grandchildren in Shawnee.
"I think it's a good experience for the kids as well as the grandparents," Hilbert said.
Her granddaughter, Carlie Gramand, agreed, saying that the best part about the day with her grandmother was "having fun with her."
The Grandparents' Day activities proved to be helpful even for those who get to see their grandchildren often. Tamara Watson snapped pictures of her mother, Iona McReynolds, and daughter, Schylar Burleson, who spend a lot of time together but often don't take pictures for documentation.
"This is the first time she's been to Riverview and participated in an activity like this," Watson said of her mother. "We all live here, it's just a matter of getting off work and being able to come."
Mize fourth grade students spent the afternoon with their grandparents in what they called the "Groovy Grandparents Gathering" from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. Jeri Ann Blain, fourth-grade teacher at Mize, said the day gave grandparents some well-deserved recognition.
"Grandparents are sometimes overlooked for all the good things they do and the impact they have on their grandchild's life, so we just wanted to honor them," Blain said.
The 90 Mize fourth-graders gathered before their grandparents in the cafeteria to give a history of Grandparents' Day, recite the poems "Grandpa McWheeze" and "Hurry, Grandma, Hurry," and sing a song about going to their grandparents' house to the tune of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame."
After ending that song with "So it's time to say you're the best and that we love you," the students dispersed to share cards and gifts with their grandparents.
"My grandma is special because she does everything for me and just the way I like it to be. My Grandma is pretty as a rose," Katie Duke wrote in her card.
Al and Mary Lee Adkins, Olathe, came for their second Grandparent's Day at Mize to visit granddaughter Tiffany Adkins. Al Adkins said they were thrilled to be able to come and spend time with Tiffany.
"We're glad to be able to be a part of anything we can with our grandchildren," Adkins said. "And she's special to us because she loves to cuddle."
Allowing the children to take a break from their lessons was no problem for the schools, who wanted to show grandparents their appreciation.
"We work very hard on the idea that this school belongs to the community," said Lowell Martinie, Mize principal. "Everyone who supports the kids is important to us, and that includes the grandparents."