1A revival of a decades-old tradition in the district, Thursday’s Grandparents Day invited pupils’ relatives to experience breakfast, class time and bathroom breaks at the four Niles elementary schools.
“In the past, we would have grandparents come in and have lunch with their grandkids,” Principal Linda Ruggles said. “But they never got a chance to see [the children] in their classrooms.”
“This was an opportunity to open the school to another extension of the family,” she said.
In fact, more than 510 visiting grandparents showed up Thursday morning, nearly matching the pupil population of 515. As cars filled the school and adjacent church parking lot, visitors began parking blocks away at Stevens Park. Narrow school hallways and cramped classrooms seemed to shrink as family attendance grew.
Many grandparents said the opportunity to share a moment with their young ones was a chance not to miss.
“We always try to be active in what they’re doing,” said Jannette Raver of Austintown, who came with her husband, Bill, to see two of their grandchildren.
“It shows them that we care about them and their schooling.”
“I think it’s good for the school, children and community,” Bill Raver added.
Niles City Schools provided the grandparents with a free continental breakfast in three areas of the school, which allowed the vast number of visitors a little elbow room in the small building.
After breakfast, they adjourned to classrooms on three floors, sitting in on lessons and even taking part in the activities.
“This is the first time I’ve had a chance [to visit] since I’ve retired,” said Debbie Osborn, who knelt beside her seated granddaughter Taylor to assist during arts-and-crafts wreath-making.
Osborn, who came with Taylor’s grandfather, credited Niles schools for Grandparents Day. She said she appreciates the school’s raised curriculum, as well as the individual attention Taylor receives.
Those sentiments were shared by Debbie Murry of Warren, who visited three of her grandchildren at Washington Elementary.
“The teachers are bright and intuitive to the children’s feelings,” said Murry, calling the school “colorful” and “well-structured.”
“I wish I were back in school!”
Many of the children beamed excitement on their faces, with wide smiles as they tugged on their grandparents or held their hands.
Principal Linda Ruggles and Superintendent Rocco Adduci were pleased with the turnout, while grandparents were more expressive with their joy.
“I think grandparents should be recognized more,” said Sally Stano, a grandmother.
“They should belong to the kinship, like this here.”
Washington Elementary is the second school in Niles to host Grandparents Day this year. Bonham Elementary has already had its day, and both Jackson and Lincoln elementary schools will have theirs in the coming weeks.