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placeholder June 26, 2017   •   VOL. 55, NO. 12   •   Oakland, CA
Senior Living & Resources
Above, Amos Hodgson examines an assignment done by his grandson, Aaron. Left, Caitlin Clement and her grandmother, Margaret Clement.
ALL: CARRIE MCCLISH/
THE CATHOLIC VOICE

Generations unite at St. Leo's
Grandparents Appreciation Day

Lovefest.

That word best describes what occurred at Oakland's St. Leo the Great School on a day celebrating grandparents.

More than 250 women and men — who answer to the names "nana" and "grandpop" and other terms of affection — were seated at colorfully decorated tables in the auditorium. Some of the guests of honor were great-grandparents. Some were filling the role of a grandparent, joined at the heart to the lives of a child or children at the school.

Unlike most family gatherings, this day started with readings by several students thanking those assembled for their love and support. After a prayer was read brunch was served. Students served up a hearty meal that included sausages, bacon, potatoes, croissants and fruit salad along with beverages like juice and coffee.

After the brunch, Grandparents Day activities moved to the parish church where students from every grade contributed in spoken message style or song honoring their grandparents and grandparent figures. Then the multigenerational group returned to the school for arts and crafts, educational games and other happenings in the classrooms.

In the fourth grade classroom, where models of the California Missions were stationed in the hallway outside the door, Amos Hodgson sat in a chair at a small table examining a paper containing an assignment done by his grandson, Aaron. Hodgson, who has attended previous Grandparents Day events with Aaron and an older grandson, said that he enjoyed being part of the lives of his grandsons. "It brings back memories of the times I spent with my grandfather when I was young," he said.

"We all know the importance of a grandparent in our lives," said Sonya Simril, St. Leo principal. "They bring a different perspective in general and in life. They bring wisdom — they are more seasoned than we are — and their perspective is always different.

"Here at St. Leo, what I love about what I see in these grandparents is they exemplify that old African proverb about it takes a village to raise a child because they are totally involved in these children's lives," she said. "Some of them are actually raising their grandkids. We have some who clearly come to drop-off and later pick up their grandkids. We all know as a society how expensive it is to send kids to school, and they support them from that perspective. They are instrumental in so many aspects of these children's lives — it's not just one thing. They encompass something so much bigger."

As senior members of the school community they started a Grandparents Club that has helped to make a significant difference at St. Leo. "It is not just a club on paper," Simril said. They have a president, they meet once a month and they have helped to raise funds "to help defer the cost of things."

For Simril, who is going on 22 years as principal at St. Leo School, this spirit of family and community continues to inspire and invigorate her ministry. "I don't feel like I'm coming to work when I come here. I am coming to a place where I enjoy what I do and be around the most awesome people.

"It is my pleasure to see them here and it brings me great pride. It's another reason I feel so blessed to be part of this community."

 
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