Grandparents feel the love at HPHS
Highland Park High School senior Jessica Abrams listens as her grandmother Sharon Abrams reads "The Road Not Taken" during her AP English class on Grandparents Day.| Michelle LaVigne ~ Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 30, 2012 6:11AM
HIGHLAND PARK — A few months back, Highland Park High School senior Nika Arzoumanian called her grandmother to relay some exciting news.
“I’ve signed you up for Grandparents Day,” Nika told her grandmother, Guhar Arakis of Skokie.
After that, the event came up in almost every conversation. “Every day, it was, Are you excited, grandma? I’m so excited,” said Arakis, one of hundreds of grandparents who attended school with seniors graduating in 2013. The event is traditionally held the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.
Arakis wasn’t shy about participating in her granddaughter’s Advanced Placement European History class.
“The teacher was talking about punishment. I said, You need to discipline your children; don’t kill them, only punish them,” said Arakis, of Iranian-Assyrian descent. “Everybody laughed. It was fun and just one of those days you will never forget.”
Elizabeth Nathan, who graduated from HPHS in 1944, was attending her fifth Grandparents Day there, this one with her youngest grandchild, Rae Nathan.
“The school is so much better than when I went there,” said Nathan, who now lives in Winnetka. “The floors are better, the lockers are cleaner, there is art all over the walls and quotes from authors and poets,” said Nathan, adding that she’s also heard complaints about the swimming pool, which could be replaced if voters approve the financing.
Regina Rosenstein was attending her third and last Grandparents Day with her youngest grandson, Micah Silberman.
She was particularly impressed with the teachers and the efforts made to involve the older generation in class discussions.
“I could go to that English class every day of my life,” said Rosenstein, of the Advanced Placement English Literature course taught by Paul Swanson. Reading Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken,” Rosenstein thought it particularly relevant to high school seniors making critical decisions about college.
The next class was Economics. “I thought it was going to be boring, but it was so far from boring,” said Rosenstein, a 56-year resident of the school district. Class participants pulled dates out of a hat and discussed how the economy that year affected them. “Almost immediately, the grandparents were sharing stories about what the Depression was like,” she said.
“They kind of took this warm blanket and wrapped it all around us,” she said. “You couldn’t help but feel welcome.”