Photo by Joel Hall
Vivian Nguyen (center), 6, enjoys lunch with her grandparents, Quan Nguyen (left) and Kim Tran, at McGarrah Elementary School, on Thursday. The school was one of several schools in the area celebrating National Grandparents Day.
By Joel Hall
For some kids, conquering the chicken nuggets and Tater Tots served in school lunches is a constant struggle. This week, children at McGarrah Elementary School, in Morrow, didn't have to do it alone. They had their grandparents there to help them.
On Thursday, more than 200 grandparents and extended family members joined students for lunch, during McGarrah Elementary's annual Grandparent's Day celebration. The event was held in conjunction with National Grandparents Day, a day of appreciation for grandparents and the elderly, taking place on the first Sunday after Labor Day.
While other area schools held similar observances this week, McGarrah Elementary Principal Tammy Burroughs said her school has kept the tradition going for more than 10 years. She said the event gives grandparents a chance to be involved in the school, while giving students a chance to show off their grandparents.
"It's a good community time for McGarrah, because everybody has such a rigorous schedule," Burroughs said. "Since a lot of time, they [grandparents] live out of town, it gives them a chance to meet the teachers and be a part of their children's education. Some of the grandparents have so much fun that they say they want to volunteer and come back.
"They [the children] enjoy it because they get to showcase their grandparents," she continued. "In middle and high school, they have to be tough, they have to be cool ... they can't admit that they love their grandparents. In elementary, they are so excited," said Burroughs. "It's neat to see all of the excitement and happy faces."
The menu for the day was chicken-fried steak, okra, and mashed potatoes, which children ate happily with their grandparents, parents, aunts, and uncles.
Jean Cotton, who joined her 8-year-old granddaughter, Adrian Reynolds, for lunch on Thursday, said she believes the event builds the self-esteem of students.
"I think it encourages the children to do well," Cotton said. "When I grew up, I had momma and daddy, but I didn't have my grandparents worried about my homework. Even though I was a good student, I feel like I would have been a better student, if more parents were involved.
"I like that it brings different grandparents and parents together to meet each other, and that it is really focused on the children," said Cotton.
Fareedah Lockhart, a fifth-grade teacher at McGarrah Elementary, said Grandparents Day "promotes a sense of family" at the school. She said that even though her students are older, they still look forward to the event every year.
"It shows them that not only does mom and dad care about my education, but also my extended family," Lockhart said. "With any child, if they see even one person who cares about them, they are going to strive to do well.
"Children just want to know that you care about them," she said. "If they do, they are eager to please."