SPOTSWOOD, NJ - Grandparent's Day at Schoenly School is a spring tradition and it's one that generates more excitement than Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny put together.
"I would say the mood was festive," Schoenly School Principal Nancy Torchiano said. "Honestly, I think the children were even more excited for our grandparents' visit than holiday festivities or parties. It was so lovely to visit each classroom and see the excitement the children had when they saw their grandma and/or grandpa enter their classroom. Even more sweet was to watch our grandparents share their attention with those children whose grandparent were, unfortunately, unable to visit."
The school divided the day so that grandparents that may have had grandchildren in pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and first grade were still able to spend time with the shining stars in their lives.
"Our turnout was huge," Torchiano continued. "Many of the teachers and Sylvia Guardiola say it was the biggest turnout since we started hosting Grandparents Day at Schoenly."
It indeed was standing room only in Stacey Vespoli's kindergarten classroom come 2 p.m. The janitor needed to be called for extra chairs. Within moments, more seats arrived and an extremely proud bunch of grandmas and grandpas listened as the enthusiastic kindergarteners read aloud a special story and serenaded them with a couple of songs. Afterwards, the kids joined their grandparents at their individual seats for some fun.
Each child chose from a table full of grandparent-oriented activities that included puzzles, games and projects. One dice game involved grandchild and grandparent asking each other questions to find out about their favorite things.
For students whose grandparents weren't able to come, Vespoli and her aide, Christine Cole gave the small group special attention on the carpet up front, completing the same activities and learning all about the youngsters' grandparents. Other grandparents went out of their way to chat with the students that didn't have a visitor as well as share praise and smiles on their creations.
Two grandparents in Vespoli's kindergarten spent the morning in their one grandson's pre-kindergarten class before joining Vespoli's class in the afternoon.
The smiles were wide on both the children's faces and their proud grandparents as they posed for selfies and worked together. Even better was when many of the students got to go home a little bit earlier than usual for a some extra grandma and grandpa time.
"I spoke with some grandparents who were once, themselves, students in our district," Torchiano said. "Many came from far and wide, including a grandma and great-grandma that drove four hours from Pennsylvania to be with us. I am honored to continue the tradition and, along with our wonderful staff, host our grandparents each spring as a way to celebrate and recognize their role in our students' lives."