By Valerie Franchi
Shrewsbury – About 60 “grandfriends,” including grandparents, senior aunts and uncles, neighbors, and family friends, visited fourth-graders at Spring Street Elementary School Nov. 13 and 14 to share their experiences of growing up and share lunch in the cafeteria.
According to Principal Bryan Mabie, the “Grandfriends luncheon” started about five years ago at the school, but was not held last year because of space and logistical concerns.
“The great thing about the event is that not only grandparents, but neighbors and friends are also invited,” he said. Those that didn's have a grandfriend were “adopted” by others.
In teacher Barbara Luby's classroom, guests were welcomed and introduced by the children to the rest of the class. Called by terms of endearment such as “grandma,” “grandpa,” “opa,” “nona,” “papi,” and “nana,” the special guests represented countries such as India, China, Ireland, Scotland, Italy, and the Philippines.
“We are going to start a unit on immigration,” Luby told the group. “We are starting the lesson right now.”
The grandfriends were given a tour of the classroom and a special poem written by their student, then asked to share their memories of fourth grade. Several pointed out the cursive writing chart on the wall, calling penmanship “a lost art.” Others recalled shared-grade classrooms, inkwells, and required uniforms.
The students and guests then moved to the cafeteria, where they shared a specially prepared meal.
Luby said the event is memorable for both generations.
“We do the event in the fourth grade because it's
their last year here at the school,” she said. “We couldn's do it without parent involvement and help from the cafeteria staff. When it all comes together it's great.”