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Grandparents enjoy their day at Drew Middle School

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Abby Betts gets a hug from her grandfather, Bob Betts, after she read her essay about her grandparents. Eighth-graders at Drew Middle School celebrated Grandparents Day by writing essays and poems about their grandparents. English teacher, Debbie Anzivino, started the program 20 years ago. (SUZANNE CARR ROSSI / THE FREE LANCE STAR)

Debra Anzivino loves to keep track of her first grandchild through a video camera positioned over 8-month-old Julie’s crib.

Tuesday morning, the infant had a message for Anzivino: “Happy Grandparents’ Day!” read a sign in Julie’s crib.

Each November for the past 20 years, Anzivino has marked an unofficial grandparents’ day, an occasion when Drew Middle School students honor their grandmas and grandpas, nanas and papas.

This year, she celebrated the occasion as a grandmother, since Julie was born in May.

The tradition began with a letter from Anzivino’s grandmother, Mazie. The letter included a “recipe” that called for a cup of kindness, a teaspoon of consideration.

Anzivino, an English teacher at the Stafford County school, was so tickled by the recipe she shared it with her eighth-grade students.

“And different conversations erupted around the room, ‘My grandma this’ and ‘My grandpa that,’” she said.

Soon, the students were asking to invite their grandparents to school. And Grandparents’ Day was born.

Each year, the students read novels about grandparents and write essays or poems.

One year, a student’s grandfather died just days before the event. He stood behind the podium in the Drew Middle School library and brought out a framed photo of his grandfather.

“I’d like everyone to meet my grandpa,” Anzivino remembered the boy saying. “He couldn’t make it today.”

This year’s celebration was more cheerful as student after student nervously approached the podium and read essays about beloved grandparents.

The writings lauded the older generation, praising them for setting examples and doling out advice, rides from school and hugs. By far, students most appreciated their grandmothers for their cooking prowess—making cookies, fried chicken, lasagna and cake.

“They’re such an inspiration to me in my life; I try every day to be like them,” Sarah Bowles wrote about the four grandparents who attended Tuesday’s event. “When I’m much older, they’re the image of what I want to be.”

Amy Umble: 540/735-1973


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