Grandparents’ Day an exciting, heartwarming affair

Photos by Daniel Vasta/The Herald
Pine Ridge Elementary third-grader Madalynn Pund, left, doodles in the art room with her grandparents, David and Edna Woebkenberg of St. Henry, during Grandparents' Day at the school in Kyana on Thursday. 


KYANA — School staff directed traffic at Pine Ridge Elementary Thursday morning as cars poured into the parking lot. Inside the school, about 300 grandparents filled the gym eagerly anticipating meeting up with their grandchildren for the school’s annual Grandparents’ Day.

The school start planning the event, which Principal Ryan Haas described as “a production,” about a month ahead of time, and it’s one of the most popular happenings at Pine Ridge.

Over 200 grandparents visit campus for the event year after year. It creates a scene of controlled chaos as grandparents follow their grandchildren through the halls to meet their teachers and see different projects their grandkids worked on.

See a gallery of photos from the event here.

For Mark and Darlene Julian of Birdseye, the atmosphere was familiar. They’re Grandparents’ Day veterans, with six of their seven grandchildren having attended Pine Ridge and their seventh ready to enroll this fall. Currently, three of the Julians’ grandchildren — fourth-grader Cameron Dowler of Birdseye and second-graders Ashlynn Dowler of Birdseye and Virginia Black of Maltersville — attend Pine Ridge.

“It’s fun to see the things they’re doing,” Mark said.

There was no shortage of things to see. Students in preschool, first and third grade kicked off the festivities with a short musical production titled “Kid’s Life” that chronicled an evening without cellphones and laptops. Kids dressed as chess pieces, Scrabble tiles and dominoes took the stage while their classmates sang songs about classic games like Bingo, jump rope and paper airplane races.

Pine Ridge Elementary first-grader Brianna Choate, right, posts a heart on the wall with her name on it to show appreciation for her grandmother, Lori Choate of Birdseye, left, during Grandparents' Day at the school in Kyana on Thursday. 

After the show, the halls filled with people as the students eagerly led their grandparents through the school. Cameron, Ashlynn and Virginia were eager to show Mark and Darlene everything. In Phil Winkler’s fourth grade classroom, Cameron showed off his desk and some of his recent assignments and books he bought from the book fair. Then, it was off to Ashlynn and Virginia’s classroom where the cousins sit next to each other.

“Are these two a handful?” Darlene jokingly asked the girls’ teacher, Patty Mercker.

“Oh no,” Mercker said. “They’re wonderful.”

Ashlynn and Virginia rushed around their classroom, clamoring to show their grandparents everything. Ashlynn shared a pencil she got at the book fair that changes from purple to pink when you hold it in your hand. Virginia showed off the student mailboxes, and both girls pointed out the bulletin board where they track Accelerated Reader points. In the AR program, students read books, then take comprehension quizzes on the computer for points.

Her grandkids’ excitement is Darlene’s favorite part of attending Grandparents’ Day.

“They get to be motormouths,” she said. “They like showing me stuff.”

Pine Ridge Elementary students sing in the music performance during Grandparents' Day at the school in Kyana on Thursday.

Although showing off their work was definitely a highlight of the day, the cousins agreed that the best part of Grandparents’ Day is more heartwarming: just seeing their grandparents.

“My favorite part is that we get to spend time with them,” Ashlynn said.

“Mine’s the cookies,” Virginia joked, referring to the snack that was served. “No. It’s seeing my grandparents.”

After classroom tours, the family visited the art room where all three kids drew pictures they gave to Darlene to display on her refrigerator. Then, in the music room, the kids showed Mark their piano and bongo drum skills. Before long, it was time for the grandparents to leave and the kids to get back to their studies.

As Mark and Darlene prepared to head home, they hugged each of their grandchildren, and I love you’s were said all around.

More on