On Friday, April 28, the Upper School hosted Grandparents Day for the first time in several years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only were grandparents welcomed to campus, but students were able to invite a grand-friend as well.
Grandparents arrived on campus at 8:30 a.m. and were free to relax in the lobby area of Roberts Theater until assembly began at 9:00 a.m.
As grandparents and students gathered in Roberts Theater, Head of School Tom Dillow warmly welcomed the grandparents. Next, Head of the Upper School Daniel Gleason gave a welcome and introduced the emcees of the assembly, seniors Faith Potter and Manu Narasimhan. Faith and Manu introduced Crimson 7, KO’s selective all-boys a capella group, who then performed the song “Bright Lights, Bigger City/Magic.” Next, junior Lucy Ybarra gave a speech she crafted in the Advanced Public Speaking elective, recounting the lessons she has taken from having parents in the military.
Lucy’s speech was followed by a presentation that featured this year’s senior thesis titles created by English Department Chair Catherine Schieffelin. This tradition has become an annual one, and awards for senior theses were presented to seven students in an Upper School assembly on Tuesday, May 16.
Next, Oxfordians, KO’s selective all-girls a capella group, took the stage to perform the song “Rolling in the Deep.” Following this performance, freshman Samit Virmani gave a speech he wrote in Advanced Public Speaking that took on the form of a poem and centered around the theme of equality. To wrap up the assembly, Outlook, another selective vocal group, took the stage and performed the song “Take Me There,” and everybody was dismissed at 10:00 a.m.
For many, the assembly was an excellent overall display of KO. “The assembly was a nice opportunity to see a variety of different groups and hear from a variety of different students with some of the speeches that we had,” Dean of Students Kata Baker said.
Dr. Gleason agreed, emphasizing the intended duality of the event. “We wanted to make sure that grandparents and all the students have a fun assembly that gave a range of student voices and showed what’s really special about KO,” he said.
After the assembly, grandparents attended classes with their students and were able to experience the atmosphere of the KO classroom. Grandparents sat with their students during E and G periods, sometimes even taking part in the lesson.
Teachers enjoyed having grandparents attend their classes. “In my class we did the stickleback lab on Grandparents Day,” science teacher Graham Hegeman said. “It was really fun to see the grandparents interact with their students, and also get into it and play with the dead fish,seeing what we do in my classroom.”
Science Department Chair Fritz Goodman noted how much the grandparents appreciated what was happening in the classroom and the effect of the overall experience. Sophomore Jenna Kanaan added to this. “I liked re-introducing them to the classroom,” she said. “As you know, they haven’t been in class for a while and just seeing how the class dynamic has changed and getting a little insight of what our days look like was nice.”
Afterward, the grandparents went to the Dining Hall and ended the day eating lunch with their students, before they left campus at 1:00 p.m.
Traditionally, Grandparents Day has been an event only held at the Middle School. It had been several years since the Upper School had hosted Grandparents Day. Mrs. Baker shared how it became a part of the Upper School as well. “The idea was that there was no reason not to do it with the Upper School,” she said. The idea of hosting the event in the Upper School was organized by Associate Director of Alumni and Parent Relations Frances Morris ’90.
Regarding the future of Grandparents Day, things are looking bright. “Since we now have the schedule of how it could work, my sense is that we’ll keep doing it,” Mrs. Baker said. Dr. Gleason agreed with this, noting that the school will continue to use a format similar to this one.
Based on his experiences that day, Mr. Hegeman hopes to see Grandparents Day again. “It’s a good way to invite the community,” he said. “It is worth it.”
Overall, Grandparents Day was a success at the Upper School. “They just got a tiny glimpse, because they had that assembly and then two classes and lunch,” Mrs. Baker said, “but despite the fact that it was quite brief, there was a lot that the grandparents gleaned from that day.”
It was a great moment of bonding between families at KO. “We got to see family connecting, talking about school, and building those connections that we really pride ourselves on,” Dr. Gleason said. KO looks forward to hosting grandparents again next year!