Archer ‘reimagines’ structure, grandparents, special friends visit campus

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Photo credit: Audrey Chang

Head of School Elizabeth English addresses grandparents and special friends in the amphitheater as they enjoy time with their granddaughters on campus. Archer hosted the first three groups of Grandparents and Special Friends’ Visits March 11.

By Audrey Chang, Staff Reporter

During the annual Grandparents and Special Friends’ Visits this year, grandparents, special friends and students celebrated being together by doing fun activities, like themed Madlibs and answering questions about the grandparents’ experiences when they were in the same grade as their granddaughters. Grandparents and special friends were toured around campus by student ambassadors, and then they rejoined their granddaughters later to eat and spend more one-on-one time together.

Three visits took place Friday, March 11, and three more visits will occur Friday, March 25. Each visit or group has about 20 grandparents, and there are expected to be 120 grandparents total visiting Archer in those two days. Eighth grader Lucy Kaplan said she was looking forward to the visit because it is an opportunity to keep her family connected with her life and what she is doing in school.

“I tend to talk to my grandparents about school mostly because they ask, but if you don’t see your grandparents that often, or they don’t ask, they might not know a lot about what you do in school,” Kaplan said. “It’s a chance to connect both parts of your life and get to see your grandparents.” 

In previous years, the event was much larger, held in the courtyard and only included middle school grandparents and special friends. Due to changing capacity guidelines with COVID-19, there was also an opportunity to reshape the event altogether. Director of Advancement Sarah Rooney has been assisting Amy Duarte, associate director of advancement services, in planning this year’s Grandparents and Special Friends’ Day, now renamed as visits.

My favorite thing about the event is just having grandparents come here… and get to see [their granddaughters] in their element … that’s really special.”

— Sarah Rooney, Director of Advancement

“We decided to reimagine it this year with ever-changing guidelines with COVID, and also in an effort to include upper school grandparents and special friends as well,” Rooney said. “With the planning, we thought maybe smaller, more intimate visits would be nice.”

Grandparents and special friends were welcomed in the amphitheater, went on a student-led tour around campus, returned to the amphitheater to enjoy activities and food with their granddaughters, and then heard closing remarks from Head of School Elizabeth English. Each visit lasted over an hour. Ninth grader Parker Keston participated in the event in sixth grade, and she said she was excited for her grandparents to see where she learns.

“I think it’s just important for grandparents to see where their granddaughters are going to school, and enjoying [and] just thriving and learning,” Keston said. “Especially in such a great learning environment … I think it’s important for them to see where I’m learning and what I’m doing.” 

During previous and larger events in the courtyard, the choir would sing and the orchestra would play for the guests, and then they would eat. This year, they are incorporating tours of campus for the first time to provide an opportunity for grandparents and special friends to see different spaces on campus. 

“We wanted them to feel like they could do an activity and enjoy one-on-one time with their granddaughter instead of being an audience member,” Rooney said. “We really wanted to make it a priority this year because grandparents have so few chances to come to campus, and we know how special they are to their granddaughters here at Archer.”