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Grandparents visit the classroom at Paul VI

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For many students at Saint Paul VI Catholic High School in Fairfax, among the most valued and influential people in their lives are their grandparents. Imagine the joy for both students and grandparents alike when, for the first time in the school’s 37-year existence, Grandparents Day was held.

Grandparents Day was organized by Kiersten Caputy, a member of the school’s advancement office. Grandparents of freshmen and juniors were invited to the school to spend a morning with their grandchildren on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. Grandparents who wished to come early were invited to attend morning Mass in the Paul VI Chapel. Breakfast was served in the library for the grandmothers and grandfathers. Then, Virginia Colwell, Head of School, and Father Stephen Schultz, chaplain, greeted the group.

After the welcoming, the students came to see their grandparents. There were three different options offered for grandparents to get to know the school better. They could take a virtual tour of the new Loudoun County campus, tour the current school with a student ambassador, or attend third-period classes with their grandchildren. The most popular option was participating in third-period classes with their high school students.

The Panther grandparents loved comparing a current day high school class, complete with Smart Boards and laptop computers, to a typical high school class for their generation. “I believe Grandparents Day was an excellent opportunity to invite our students’ grandparents to participate in a school morning and experience what a high school classroom is like today,” said Principal Tom Opfer.

Many teachers even went above and beyond to include the grandparents in the day’s lesson. For example, Paul VI health teacher Kelly Karas played a game that she called “speed dating.”

The students and grandparents sat in desks where they had two minutes to talk about a number of topics. Then they would rotate, so they got to chat with someone new. Within just a few minutes, the room was filled with stimulating conversations and raucous laughter. In spite of the age difference, the “speed daters” truly relished each other’s company.

Junior Ava Burkat and her grandmother participated in the event. The pair solved problems together during a third-period math class. “I had a lot of fun hearing about what school was like for her. We both really enjoyed it and I would definitely be willing to do it again,” said Burkat.

Colwell received many thank you letters from grandparents complimenting the school environment with the message that many of them are looking forward to returning next year.

The event was a complete success for all involved, no matter their age.

“It’s a nice way to include our grandparents in the community,” said Caputy. “We want them to know they are a part of the Paul VI family too.”



© Arlington Catholic Herald 2019