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A day for the ages at Barry Elementary School

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer

Autumn Foote, 6, visits with her grandparents Klarissa Lienemann of Cortland and Joan Foote, right, of McLean on Thursday during Grandparents Day at Barry Elementary School in Cortland.

Some introduced themselves as the proud grandparent of an “amazing” grandchild, others said they were there for their “princess” and all were recognized for the important role they play in the youngsters’ lives at Thursday morning’s Grandparents Day at Barry Elementary School in Cortland.

Principal Doug Pasquerella said he revived the event a year ago, after it had lapsed from when it was started by Fred Amante, who was principal from 1985 to 2008. About 200 grandparents were in attendance Thursday.
The event is about respect, Pasquerella said.

It started with an assembly in the gymnasium, in which grandparents introduced themselves and their grandchild. After dismissal, the families could have a brief breakfast together before the grandparents left for the day.

“Respecting grandparents, our elders and parents. It’s important to teach children family values,” Pasquerella said, adding the event shows the kids of Barry Elementary, which considers itself a family, that they should be proud of the families they come from.

And for the grandparents, being asked to participate by their young grandchildren was especially meaningful.

“It’s thrilling that he wanted us to come,” said Robin Negley, who was there with her husband Darrell Negley, for their fifth-grade grandson Caleb Cullip.

“He called and asked me himself,” she said.

The grandparents, who live in Freeville, say they see Caleb every two or three weeks. Caleb sometimes helps Darrell Negley in his upholstery shop or works with a neighbor, making birdhouses.

Caleb said, as he collected a bagel and snacks after the morning assembly, that it was fun to have his grandparents with him for the morning.

Other grandparents had farther to travel, like Jackie and Glenn Rogers, who drove more than an hour from Van Etten to be there for their grandson and granddaughter, Shane and Alison Hopkins.

Glenn Rogers said he sees his grandchildren a couple times a month and more during fishing season.

About 15 great-grandparents were also present but none could claim as many grandchildren as Barbara Shanahan. She received a special round of applause as she was the lone grandparent left standing in the gym when Pasquerella kept counting up from 20, asking how many grandchildren the participants had.

At 26 she sat down, to a hearty ovation.

Afterward, eating breakfast with her, 7-year-old Cylan Southwick said proudly he is one of Shanahan’s 45 great-grandchildren.

Shanahan was also there for Trinity Aldrich, 8, and fourth- and fifth graders Daisy and Kadin Dukes.

“I think it’s a great honor and privilege to be called a grandma and a great-grandma,” she said.

Christine and Bob Gregory of Cortland came for Kaedyn Murphy, their 12-year-old granddaughter.

“We get insight into what her school is like, the activities and it’s always great to involve family,” said Christine Gregory of the Grandparents Day event.

For Kaedyn, it was just another chance to see her grandparents, who she sees regularly throughout the week.

As she rested her head on her grandmother’s shoulder, she boasted of how involved her grandmother is in the community, saying everyone knows her.

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