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Technology expands reach of grandparent day at Victoria school
An excited Rosalee Mann escorts her grandma around her kindergarten classroom. She points out her pink cardboard pig artwork stapled to a bulletin board, and a poster displaying dozens of colourful butterfly species on the wall.
Pacific Christian School regularly welcomes some 500 grandpas and grandmas through its doors during the annual Grandparents Day event – but this year's event saw a number of guests attend by logging in.
Using an iPad and the video chat program Skype, Bomer was able to sit in her Texas home Friday morning and still play a role in the special day at her five-year-old granddaughter's school.
"It's great to see her and all of her friends," Bomer says over webcam. "When you live far away from your children and grandchildren, it's just precious to have an opportunity like this. It's important for her to know how much I wish to be there."
Pacific Christian assistant principal Will Wild says Grandparents Day promotes "fellowship and togetherness," and gives grandparents a unique opportunity to visit with their grandkids in their school environment.
"We at PCS just value community and connecting with the family, and providing opportunities where our families can interact with the children here," he says.
"There's a real joy that I see on the children's' faces and on the grandparents as well. The students love to take their grandparents around and introduce them to their teacher, show them the work they've been doing, take them on tours of the school and show them what happens around this place."
Bomer wasn't the only distant grandparent to participate via Skype. Nearly 40 grandparents – living across Canada, in the United States, Switzerland, Argentina and South Korea – logged online and got the virtual experience.
"Technology is amazing. If only I could just reach out and hug her it'd be better," Bomer says after her tour with Rosalee.
Chris Berghuis, development director at PCS, says Grandparents Day has been a tradition at PCS for at least 18 years. Even staff members bring their parents and grandparents.
"It's a reflection of the loving community here," he says.
After tours in the morning, grandparents were treated to snacks and a show put on by the students.
Bomer says she's in awe of today's technology, which allows her to see and visit with her granddaughter at school without having to travel.
"We couldn't do anything like this when I was in kindergarten," Bomer says.