Grandparent and students shared lunch and a day of school together at White Pine Middle School. (Staff photo by Lukas Eggen)

Grandparent and students shared lunch and a day of school together at White Pine Middle School. (Staff photo by Lukas Eggen)

By Lukas Eggen
Ely Times Staff Writer

Although Grandparents Day was on Sept. 8, White Pine Middle School invited grandparents to spend the day at school, to have lunch or just take a peek at the school on Monday.

The goal was simple: Give grandparents a glimpse into their grandchildren’s academic lives and thank them for the support they’ve shown their grandchildren through the years.

“When I arrived here that was one of the goals that our superintendent talked about was parent/family involvement,” WPMPS Principal Sharyl Allen said. “When we talked about this m first week here, we said why don’t we do a grandparents day because we have kids from diverse backgrounds and the influence from a grandparent is different than a parent and rarely do we invite the grandparents to see what schools look like today and what’s different from when they went to school.”

Giving students a chance to show their grandparents what a school day is like is imperative, Allen said. But Monday also served to help strengthen the relationship between grandparents and their grandchildren.

“The point of today was to build on the relationship with grandparents and let them see what school is about because we go and ask them to support us in a lot of ways through the taxes they pay to the fundraisers that happen, the list goes on and on,” Allen said.
And it wasn’t just local grandparents who attended the festivities. Some traveled as many as four and five hours to come here, Allen said.

“We were just thrilled about the number of grandparents who took the time out of their day to come and support their grandkids here,” Allen said.
Dean of Students Susan Jensen helped start the day with a presentation of the history of the school and the building and grandparents received a special welcome.

“(Susan) brings such a rich history as a native of Ely and the stories to tell so they enjoyed that,” Allen said. “Our student council welcomed them this morning. Some came for lunch. Some stayed for the whole day. The important thing is they were here.”

As grandparents got a glimpse of what school was like for their grandchildren, perhaps the most important aspect of the day was seeing students’ reactions to what their grandparents had to say about them.

“We had grandparents come up to us and say how proud they are of their kids and how grateful they are to see them and the kids hearing these things, that’s a powerful influence in their lives,” Allen said. “Sometimes you never hear that unless you open the door for those comments to be made.”

As students and grandparents enjoyed an opportunity to grow closer and to learn more about what WPMS students go through on a daily basis, Allen hopes that Monday helps inspire grandparents to take an active role in their grandchildren’s academic lives.
But Allen also hopes it shows grandparents there are numerous ways for them to help out the school and the students, no matter how big or how small the act.

“They can come see it’s not so daunting to come into this school and maybe they’ll think I could come read or I could volunteer here or they do need help here,” Allen said. “We want to open their eyes to see how they can interact with their grandchildren in the school environment and how they can take that to the home environment…their support is significant and the relationship they have is significant.”