Archive for Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Welcome, grandparents

Tonganoxie grnadchildren share school days with older family members

September 15, 2004

As always, grandparents came from far and near to attend Grandparents' Day at Tonganoxie Elementary School.

But it's likely the grandparents with the highest mileage behind them were Jim and Cindy Fleming who traveled from North Pole, Alaska.

At recess, Jim hugged his granddaughter Kristin Rawls, who is in the fifth grade.

"We've been to Tonganoxie two our three times," Fleming said. "It's a nice little town."

The Flemings, who are in the midst of moving from Alaska to North Carolina, also spent time with two other grandchildren at TES -- Jeffrey Rawls in the fourth grade and Megan Rawls in the first grade.

The Flemings, as well as the other visitors, started the day early.

About 8 a.m., grandparents stood in line outside the school's doors. At the front door, under the arch, Superintendent Richard Erickson greeted visitors. Nearby, George Cooper helped with registration and distributed informational brochures about the Tonganoxie school district's upcoming bond election.

The $25.3 million bond issue, if approved by voters on Nov. 2, would fund construction of a new 5-8 middle school on the district's 80 acres, would renovate the existing grade school into a K-4 facility and would revamp the present junior high and high schools into a 9-12 high school campus.

Just down the hall from the front doors, in Ruth Wickey's first-grade classroom Carolyn Peters sat beside her grandson, Ryan Schulz, at his desk.

For Peters this was her second year to make the 500-plus mile round trip from Schuyler, Neb., for grandparents' day.

"I was here last year for kindergarten," said Peters who has six grandchildren.

Meanwhile, Ryan showed his grandmother a surprise he'd made for her. It was a card on which he'd drawn a picture of himself swimming, and that included a handwritten note that read, "I love you much." Peters, who according to the elementary school's tally was one of 620 grandparents who visited the school on Thursday and Friday, said she thought it was a great way to bring grandparents and grandchildren together.

"That's very nice," Peters said. "They don't do that at our school in Nebraska."

Just behind Peters, Ed Bouton, who lives in Lawrence, visited with his granddaughter, Sarah Mailen.

"I've come every year since the kids have been up here," Bouton said.

Because his grandson, Matt, is in the fourth grade, Bouton said he planned to stay in Sarah's class for an hour before going down the hall to visit Matt.

Golden school days

Martha Jenkins traveled from Piper to see her granddaughter, Amber Jenkins, another first-grader.

"I like it," Martha said. "I think it is a neat thing to do, it's really fun and it kind of brings back the days when we were room mothers and came to school parties with our kids. I always enjoyed that."

Making the most of her grandson's physical education class, Evelyn Schick, who lives in Overland Park, turned one end of the jump rope as her grandson, Mitchell Towns, and his friends ran in and out of the rope's circuit. Marilyn Thompson, a grandparent who lives in Tonganoxie, turned the other end.

"We're having fun," Schick said. "This is fun. I work for School District 500 (Kansas City, Kan.) and I took the morning off to come out here."

Schick said she'd been coming out to Tonganoxie for grandparents' day activities for about five years.

"I think this is a nice thing for a school to do," she said.

Jeremy Goebel, TES physical education teacher, had his hands full with his students as well as their grandparents.

"You should have been here in the last class," Goebel said. "I had three grandparents jumping rope together."

Learning about us

In Diane Mahoney's fifth-grade class, Bob Jacobs, the grandfather of Dylan Jacobs, stumped the children during show and tell. The students, as well as their grandparents, were invited to show items that someone described their life, or their family's life.

Bob Jacobs, who lives in Tonganoxie, brought a wooden box and paddle that had been in his family for years.

After students' guesses ranged from a fly swatter to a ping pong paddle, Shane Starcher raised his hand and asked if it had to do with spreading butter.

Shane was right -- it was a butter press.

One of Shane's classmates, Matt Soetaert, pulled his items out of a brown paper bag. There was a golf ball, a baseball, family photos and a model race car.

These all told his classmates what he liked.

Matt raised a few chuckles when he put his items back into his sack, commenting, "I would have brought my dog, too, but he wouldn't fit."

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