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A grand day

Carrollwood Elementary School opens its doors to grandparents and gets a positive reaction with its first Grandparents Day.


© St. Petersburg Times, published May 27, 2001

CARROLLWOOD -- For many of the adults who visited Carrollwood Elementary on Wednesday, it had been decades since they last sat in a classroom facing blackboards scribed with multiplication tables and homework assignments. This time, they weren't studying academics. They were participating in the school's first Grandparent's Day.

More than 150 grandparents turned out to dance to the live tunes of a big band group, tour the campus, accompany their grandkids to class and lunch.

"This is fantastic," said Hall McRory, there with his granddaughter, Dakota Larsen. "This school is the best!"

The event was sponsored by the Grandparents Club, which was created at the beginning of the school year. It was specifically designed to get grandparents more involved with their grandchildren's lives. According to PTA volunteer Cay Bacon, the club's first year has been a success. It already boasts nearly 250 members.

"When we first started it, we thought we would have a small group of grandparents. But it ended up growing and blooming," said Bacon, who co-founded the group with fellow PTA parent Shari Palasti and Terrill Hameroff, a grandmother.

Grandparents in the club volunteer their time working in the school's library, helping with general office duties and tutoring students in various subjects. They are also mailed updates on upcoming events and activities happening at the school. That way, Bacon said, they'll be aware of what's going on so they can better communicate with their grandkids.

The school welcomed grandparents Wednesday, offering them a taste of what kids do during the day and what they are learning in class. Glen and Marilyn Peak watched their grandson, first-grader Kevin Harvey, give an oral presentation on Indiana. And John Miseyko, who traveled from Ormond Beach, listened to an essay by his 7-year-old granddaughter, Taylor Watford, on the reasons why she loved her grandfather.

At the Grandparents Day reception, the PTA awarded prizes to the grandparent with the most grandchildren and the oldest great-grandparent. They also honored volunteer grandmother Marietta Rushing, who has become a "surrogate grandmother" to a visually impaired 9-year-old girl she began tutoring after joining the club.

It's stories like Rushing's that illustrate what the club can do for all students at the school, said Bacon. "It really shows the children that there are people out there who care about their education."

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