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Grandparents Day attracts 400 'spoilers' to Shorecrest

Grandparents are a lovable lot - and an easy mark. They indulge theirgrandchildren, buy them too much, take them to great places and undermine their parents' discipline.

At least that's what some grandchildren think - and they love their grandparents for it.

That's why nearly 400 grandparents were gathered Friday at what has become an annual ritual at Shorecrest Preparatory School, 5101 First St. NE. The school's seventh Grandparents Day is "one way to keep the whole family involved in education," said Linda Eisenhart, the school's director of development. "In today's fast society, grandparents symbolize the type of stability and continuity that we feel is very important to the lives of our students."

They symbolize a lot of other things, too.

They're swell shoppers for one, according to sixth-grader Michelle Suarez and fourth-grader Diana Popick.

"They spoil me," said Michelle of grandmothers Irene Zinobar and Mildred Shavalan. "They buy me more than my momma does."

"And my grandparents aren't as strict as my parents," said Diana, whose grandmother is visiting from West Palm Beach. "They let me stay up later and watch TV more."

Michelle's grandparents do the same. "And when I'm bad, my mom will get mad, but my grandparents - they just take it easy. And they let me eat unhealthy food, and they just give me money. My mom makes me earn it.

"It's much easier with grandparents," she added, summing it all up.

For Newton Reiff, a fourth-grader, having grandparents Caroline and Harry Dunkle of St. Petersburg means going to the swimming hole at "their place in North Carolina. And we go fishing a lot. And we always go to church with them."

And sixth-grader Joey Lazzara says grandparents "are people that can't drive good but they're so fun loving we forget that."

Grandparents Day started with a musical show in the school gymnasium, after which students took grandparents to their individual classrooms, some walking, some pushing wheelchairs and some holding hands and skipping.

Those students whose grandparents could not attend the festivities were "adopted" by other grandparents who seemed to have plenty of love and hugs to go around.

The final activity of the day was a reception for grandparents, each of whom was given a "goody bag" and punch to partake of on picnic tables under shady pine trees. No matter that the youngsters were not permitted any goodies - the grandparents sneaked them a few.

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