I was so excited last week as we hosted Grandparents’ Day again after having to skip it in 2021. You must understand Grandparents’ Day is a much beloved tradition at James River. In 2020, it was the final event before our school (and schools around the nation) shut down due to COVID-19, so to be able to host it once again was truly wonderful.
The students and faculty always work hard to have songs and performances polished for this first Friday in March. I cannot think of another event that demonstrates the children’s growth and development over their nine years at James River in quite such an illustrative way. With each successive grade’s performance, we could see the students’ skills and abilities grow. This group of grade-level and middle school ensemble performances truly encapsulates nine years of change into a single hour event. Plus, nothing lights these children up more than performing for their grandparents--their biggest fans.
All of the performances were terrific, and I was blown away by the second graders singing a cappella. That isn’t easy, and they did a great job. And then there was the piece Paddy Braunstein wrote with and for the third graders to sing--They Mean the World to Me--about and to their grandparents. It was enough to bring tears to my … well, to everyone’s eyes. (Video linked below.) I also loved the movement pieces done by our youngest students; the children very clearly enjoyed the lyrical qualities of Trois Gymnopedie #1 and Für Elise, as did I. And then we witnessed the growth of musicians from fourth graders just beginning to play an instrument and sing as a chorus to our middle school ensembles who really know how to put on a performance. Where else could one see performances to music by Bob Marley and Trombone Shorty mixed with traditional folk tunes and classical greats such as Beethoven?
This year we used grade-level to determine the performance order, which was different than most years. I guess that, and the fact we’d missed a year of hosting Grandparents’ Day, may be why this year’s performances really captured, for me, this sense of watching them grow. It was like watching a time-lapse video of a flower blooming--truly amazing. I am so grateful we were once again able to welcome grandparents to campus. They are such an important part of our James River Day School community. It was a great day.