West St. John honors its grandparents

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 15, 2009

In the West St. John High School gymnasium, linen tablecloths, balloon bouquets, and gift bags awaited the students’ grandparents. The Grandparents’ Day Committee honored grandparents with a Thanksgiving-style feast, speeches, songs and poetry. Guindella Joseph, a paraeducator at WSJH, has coordinated this event for the past 12 years.

Geraldine Octave, grandparent of Kimberly Bailey and Joey White, took time away from her job to attend the event. “I’m proud that my grandkids think enough of me to invite me. By supporting them, I’m showing how proud I am of them,” Octave said.

The guest speaker was Leroy Mitchell, past school board member who had served District 1 for 13 years, spoke about the changing role of grandparents. “You are a mentor, confidant, love-dispenser, shelterer, guidance counselor, teacher and historian—you are ‘super’ human,” stated Mitchell. He also advised them that if they couldn’t keep up with today’s technology, they only needed to call their grandchild for assistance. “We can never keep up with our grandkids, but we can stay close behind,” finished Mitchell.

The purpose of WSJH’s Grandparents’ Day is to link today’s youth with their natural heritage and family tradition, according to student Asialynn Curea. She continued, “We want to show love and honor to all of our grandparents for all they have given to us.”

Superintendent Dr. Courtney P. Millet encouraged the attendees to share their pasts with their grandchildren. “Talk to them, tell them stories—it helps to keep them grounded,” said Millet. District 1 school board member, Russell Jack, invited the grandparents to make future visits to the school. “Come to the school often. We have an open-door policy. Stay involved in your grandchildren’s lives,” stated Jack.

A new recognition was added to this 12-year tradition. For the first time, WSJH named an Honorary Grandparent, Melinda Evans. Evans is a resident of Edgard, an 11-year employee of WSJH, and is currently the head custodian of the school. She has two children who graduated from WSJH, and she also has two grandchildren. Her children and grandchildren surprised her by attending the event.

Principal Erica Merrick commented that this event is dear to her heart. “My grandparents raised me. I am a product of what can happen when grandparents are a positive influence in your life,” Merrick said.