On November 22, grandparents and special friends of Shore students came together to celebrate Grandfriends Visiting Day, an annual tradition that takes place on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving each year. From opening remarks and musical performances to time spent with students in their classrooms, Grandfriends Visiting Day provides the opportunity for the strengthening of unique bonds between students and grandparents and other special friends.
As grandfriends arrived on campus, they filled the Lawrence A. Griffin Center for Creativity where they were treated to refreshments and music played by student pianists and a Lower School string group. Visitors mingled with faculty and caught up with their fellow grandfriends, some reminiscing on this Shore tradition, while others shared their excitement and anticipation for their first Grandfriends Visiting Day experience.
Susan Winthrop has been attending this event for many years, usually with her husband Frederic ‘55, as six of their nine grandchildren have attended Shore at some point in their educational career.
"I come to Shore to see [my grandchildren's] performances and sports games, but getting to spend time in their classrooms is a joy,” said Winthrop when asked about what she values most about Grandfriends Visiting Day.
Visitors were then invited into the Trustey Family Theatre by Katie Kozin, Director of Institutional Advancement, for the theater portion of the program.
As Interim Head of School Amy Vorenberg introduced herself and made her welcoming remarks, photos that she captured of students from around campus, and photos that she took on the eighth grade trip to Camp Mataponi in Maine played behind her.
Vorenberg spoke about the importance of grandfriends in the lives of Shore students, and how eager students had been to welcome them to campus. In preparation for the day, Vorenberg asked students ‘What do you love to do with your grandparents?’
Some of the answers she received included:
- I love that my granny reads to me.
- I like to make pancakes with my grandmother. She makes the best pancakes.
- I love to eat Oreos at my grandparents — my mom doesn’t let me eat Oreos.
- I like to do puzzles with my grandparents.
- My grandmother and I take walks in her neighborhood.
- I paint with my grandpa.
- I talk to my nana. I can tell her everything because she listens.
- I love to play outside with my grandpa.
- I just like to hear my grandmother’s stories.
- I just like to be with my grandparents.
As the audience sat with the touching responses, Vorenberg pointed out the common themes in students’ answers. “What I noticed is they're not talking about technology. They're not talking about social media. They're not talking about fancy or expensive things. They're talking about time with people they love.”
“Your grandchildren love the time they spend with you because that is essential. It's rooted in meaningful connections. And there's something so important that happens when grandparents and grandchildren spend time together,” stated Vorenberg. She continued on to point out that it wasn't just what students said that struck her, it was how they said it. “Their pride in you, their joy in the experiences that they share with you, it was genuinely heartwarming, and it was wonderful to hear them so excited about your arrival today.”
Vorenberg went on to talk about Shore, and the pride the school has for its value of academics and hard work with high expectations for students. She urged visitors to take note of all they observe in the classrooms and hallways to see how the Shore program comes to life each day.
Vorenberg shared her gratitude for the Shore community and various constituencies including board members, faculty and staff, administrators, alumni (some of whom had gathered on campus the night before for the Young Alumni Panel and Young Alumni Gathering), and parents before returning the focus to grandparents. “You raised your children to prioritize education. Shore parents see the value of this program for your grandchildren, and in some cases, they have made extraordinary sacrifices to make this education possible for those grandchildren. I can't thank you enough, grandparents, for your hard work as parents
“Keep talking to your grandchildren, and keep listening to them and their stories,” urged Vorenberg in her closing remarks. “You are loved greatly and it's an honor to celebrate here with you today.”
The program transitioned to musical performances, beginning with siblings William M. (Grade 5) and Evy M. (Grade 4) playing a piano duet. Next, a violin performance by Walker B. (Grade 4), Millie P. (Grade 3), and Nora K. (Grade 3) took place with instructor Lisa Brooke. Shore’s Chamber Ensemble consisting of faculty and students then played a song conducted by Joanne Tedesco, SEA Shore Music Coordinator, String Instructor, and Chamber Ensemble Conductor.
From there, Lower School Music Teacher Alexandra Asacker presented the Grade 3 and Grade 4 Chorus as they sang two songs, ‘Scales and Arpeggios’ from the Disney film ‘The Aristocats,’ and ‘Sing in Harmony’ by Stephen A. Paparo.
Kozin returned to the stage and thanked the student musicians before turning the audience's attention to a different kind of student presentation – this time from Upper School student speakers. This began with Grade 6 students Ava B., Audrina G., Jonathan S., and Orla K. reading poems that they wrote about gratitude. Then, Grade 6 student Jasper L. shared his thoughts on the Shore Community Code
and what it means to him.
Fourth grade students in Mr. Hubbard and Ms. Tell’s classes finished the theater portion of the day with marimba performances of the songs ‘Balafon’ and ‘Two Three’ by Walt Hampton.
Grandparents and special friends transitioned into classroom visits to have a closer look into their student's school life over multiple sessions. In the Lower School, visitors made crafts, attended homeroom classes, and special subject classes including S.A.I.L. (Science and Art Integrated Learning), physical education, science, and Spanish.
In the Upper School, grandfriends attended classes including Robotics in the iLab, English and history around the Harkness Table, and a special treat in their Advisory meetings. All Upper School students had Advisory with special programming for Grandfriends Visiting Day. Grade 7 Advisory did a human treasure hunt, looking for someone who had done a number of things on a list. A highlight for me was that one of [the items on the list] was about knowing a celebrity,” said Upper School History Teacher Sarah Sklarsky. “I talked to one grandfriend who knew Paul McCartney and one who had met Mother Teresa — not just any celebrities!”
Grandfriends Visiting Day at Shore is always a wonderful experience for students and grandfriends. The value of this tradition is felt deeply by all and underscores Shore’s dedication to community. Thank you for continuing to make the day special.