Grandfriends Day an Occasion to Give Thanks

On campus for the largest event of the year, grandparents and other special guests heard from Head of School Clair Ward, visited classrooms, and enjoyed music and student speeches during a Thanksgiving Assembly this Grandfriends Day, November 21. Falling the day before the start of the Thanksgiving vacation, this annual occasion is a time for expressing gratitude.

See the complete video of the Thanksgiving Assembly on Shore's YouTube channel.

This year, the day began with early arrivals excitedly gathering in the Kiva in the Center for Creativity to enjoy coffee, tea, and breakfast treats prepared by Chef Scott Flanagan and his kitchen staff. The lemon poppyseed cake and banana bread were the subject of rave reviews as the space quickly filled with students directing their guests to the registration tables, where staff and parent volunteers greeted visitors and presented each with a personalized itinerary and schedule. Musical selections performed by talented students directed by long-time Shore music teacher Joey Tedesco set a festive tone for the morning.

The first of two Grandfriends Day assemblies then began in the Trustey Family Theatre, where Shore's chamber ensemble entertained guests as they found their seats. Featured speaker Gene Tremblay, grandparent of Shore alumna Tenley Williamson '19 and current student Lexi Williamson '24, expressed gratitude as he recalled witnessing Tenley's growth into a confident leader and accomplished musician while a student. Tremblay, a founding partner and director of Equity Research and Trading at Wellington Management Company, as well as Chair Emeritus of the Board of NOLS (the National Outdoor Leadership School), urged audience members to cherish similar experiences of their own children and grandchildren, and to stay involved by supporting the school.

Head of School Clair Ward followed with her own words of thanks, telling guests, "Your presence today is truly a gift to us." Reading passages from the Wordsworth poem "Ode to Intimations on Immortality," she underscored the poet's message about the immortality of childhood within each of us. Ward echoed Tremblay's sentiments as she then urged listeners, "Do not worry about the legacy you leave behind. Rather celebrate the legacy that childhood has left behind in you. ... By being close to children, like the ones we know and love here at Shore, we can revisit the joy and live vicariously through them."

It was then time for grandparents and other special visitors to make their way to classrooms to join students for fun activities, presentations, and a first-hand look at teaching and learning at Shore. Some teachers highlighted key aspects of their daily routines for guests, while others staged quiz games on interactive whiteboards that the whole family could enjoy. In Upper School science labs, faculty members set up simple experiments for students and their guests; in history and English classrooms, they facilitated discussions of current events around the Harkness table and encouraged collaborative writing sessions. 

When student singers and musicians began to depart to prepare for the final event of the day, the Thanksgiving Assembly, guests made their way to the Howard Gymnasium to find prime seats for enjoying the music and speeches skillfully coordinated by music teachers Jenn Boyum and Alex Asacker. Shore's youngest performers in Pre-K and Kindergarten kicked off the concert before a standing-room crowd, and fifth graders Kelly McVeigh and Namya Bandi each spoke about the significant role played by Native Americans in assisting early New England colonists around the time of the "first Thanksgiving." Later, eighth grader Caroline Brennan, the featured student speaker, delivered her remarks. "In my time at Shore," she began, "I have begun to understand the meaning of gratitude." She went on,

"From Ms. Ward's speeches to House meetings to advisory, Shore reminds us what being grateful really means. While we might think that giving thanks and being grateful are the same thing, I have learned that they are not. Giving thanks involves telling someone how thankful you are, like how we thank our Thanksgiving hosts for making us dinner.

"Gratitude is different. Gratitude is expressing thanks in the form of action. For example, in last period history class before winter break, my class took the time to go help the maintenance and kitchen staff clean the Dining Hall. This involved wiping tables, stacking chairs, and making sure everything was organized before we all headed off for two weeks. The staff had no idea that we were doing this, but when they saw that we wanted to help, they were truly relieved, knowing that their workload was now lessened. They looked so happy, and it made me think about the impact my little act of returned kindness made on the rest of their day. Sometimes when we give gratitude, we do not realize that we are doing it. But for the recipient, our act of kindness makes a big difference. By helping out the staff, we were able to demonstrate our gratitude through our actions, not only by saying thank you.

"We are all fortunate to be at Shore. While we may not express it every day, I am sure each of us is grateful for the opportunities our parents and grandparents are providing us. This community gives us so much for which to be grateful. For me personally, my life would be completely different without the Shore community. If my friends were not here to listen to me rant about how much homework I have to do or how a seventh grader stole my toast at lunch, I would be very stressed-out most of the time. I know that advisory is a very important time for my friends and me, because this is the time when we get to express how our lives are going amd receive help from those who care. I am grateful to our teachers, for putting up with us students every day. We are not always an easy group. You listen to us talk and vent during advisory about writing essays; we constantly mispronounce the same Spanish words over and over again; we forget to wear goggles in science class—yet our teachers laugh with us and are always there to support our growth as students. Every person at Shore is here to help us, either to grow as a person or gain knowledge. I hope that as we grow as students we can openly express our gratitude for them more fully—not just show it by doing homework and helping in class.

"As we leave to go spend time and eat with our friends and families, I ask you to show gratitude this Thanksgiving, instead of just giving thanks. Whether it be helping a family member cook the dinner, or not immediately running off to go play with your cousins but instead helping clean up, they will know that you appreciate what they've done and are not simply happy to eat a delicious meal. Thanksgiving is a day we choose to spend with friends and family, so make the most of it. I want to leave you with a quote by speaker Zig Ziglar: "Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for."

Shore's a cappella groups Puellae Cantantes and Acafellas concluded the concert, with the boys, joined by their Acafellas alumni in the audience, capping the performances with the traditional "Happy Trails."

    • Seventh grader Jack McVeigh singing a solo in "Happy Trails"

    • Pre-Kindergartner Vivienne Baird arriving with a special friend

    • Gene Tremblay GP '19, '24 speaking to guests

    • Second grader Khoi Do with guests

    • Third grader Nola van Otterloo explaining "Thoth's Readers" to grandfather Eijk

    • Sixth grader Henry Foster with a special guest at the Harkness table

    • Student speaker Caroline Brennan '20

    • Young singers ready to perform

    • Ashley DuKatz '20, Eden Welch '20, and Kate Cullinane '21 singing "Will the Circle Be Unbroken?"