On November 27, 2019, the day before Thanksgiving, grandparents, parents, and other special friends and relatives came to campus to celebrate Grandfriends Day, an annual tradition that is one of the most treasured of the school year. Visitors heard from Head of School Clair Ward, spent time with students in their classrooms, and enjoyed music and student speeches during a Thanksgiving Assembly.
The morning began in the Trustey Family Theatre, where grandparent and volunteer Sallie Lankford P ’92, GP ’25, ’27 was joined by Director of Advancement Katie Kozin and Head of School Clair Ward to welcome visitors. Ward spoke about the concept of “expansive listening,” and told grandfriends, “You are in the best position to practice your listening skills with the children you are lucky enough to have in your life. Soak up every minute of it, knowing that not only are you helping them to learn self-expression and self-advocacy, but you are also giving yourself a potential window of fun, levity, and whimsy.”
Hundreds of guests then dispersed across campus to spend time with children in their classrooms. Visitors young and old enjoyed interactive games and projects, mini-lessons, Harkness-style discussions, and much more in both the Upper and Lower School.
To conclude the morning, grandfriends made their way to the Howard Gymnasium for the annual Thanksgiving Concert, which this year had the theme “Spirit Abounds.” Music teachers Jenn Boyum and Alex Asacker conducted performers in Pre-K through Grade 9 in a selection of American spirituals that delighted the audience.
In between songs, ninth grade student speakers Ella Williams and Raphael Clark shared their reflections on gratitude. “If, instead of focusing on what is missing, we look for the amazing things that we do have,” Williams said, “it will give us perspective, and show us that every little thing is worth a lot more than we might expect. We need to step back and be grateful for the small moments in life. We need to focus on how lucky we are—focus on the delicious meal you have, or how a stranger held the door for you. These little moments mean more than they seem like they would.”
Clark, sharing a story about spending time with his late grandfather, said, “The experience of losing my grandfather taught me that we as people can’t just appreciate those around us during prominent moments. Rather, we have to appreciate our loved ones every moment that we can. And while writing this I realized that I have to take my own advice. So I decided not to tell my family that I was speaking here today, just so I could surprise them by saying thank you for supporting me, guiding me, and loving me.”