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Grandparents club provides Smart Boards, help to St. James students

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By Kelly Cantrall

Parents helping their children’s school are nothing new, but St. James Catholic Regional School family members have taken volunteerism back a generation.

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A grandparents club at St. James raised $82,800 to pay for a Smart Board interactive whiteboard in every classroom. The club was formed this school year and members have assisted the school in multiple ways, from monetary assistance to volunteering time.

The club formed when the school was preparing to move into a new building last fall, member Raymond Miller said. Several students’ grandparents knew there would be many needs and oppor-tunities to help the school through the transition, including purchasing items to fill the new space.

“No matter how big the price tag, it’s never all-inclusive,” Miller said.

Grandparents wanted to do what they could to make the school a better place, said club member Bob Zoglmann. They wanted to assist the school with the stewardship model of time, talent and treasure.

“That’s really been a positive experience,” Zoglmann said.

The club is an informal organization; it consists of 50 to 60 grandparents on a mailing list who are open to meeting and working on club projects, he said. They try to be inclusive — some members have no grandchildren at the school and a few great-grandparents are involved.

The school administration was committed to purchasing a Smart Board for every classroom, but the idea of reimbursing the school for purchases appealed to club members, Miller said, because it directly impacted academics.

Teachers had to share boards before, Zoglmann said.

“It was sort of an educational enhancement for each classroom,” he said.

Members began discussing donating money in the fall, but the group did not set a fundraising goal, Miller said. They learned last month they had contributed enough money to buy 23 electronic boards for $3,600 each.

“We were pleased obviously that we reached that goal and probably surprised, to be honest about it,” he said.

About 20 percent of the money came from grandparents who live elsewhere, he said, including New York, Indiana and Alabama.

Zoglmann said it was “overwhelming” to learn of the amount of money club members contributed.

Members help in many ways, Assistant Principal Shellee Godfrey said. Members give tours of the building, work as traffic guards during school drop-off and dismissal, and tutor students.

Miller said Principal Sister Michael Marie Friedman provides opportunities to donate time. Miller said he begins to feel like he’s missed something when he goes for very long without being at the school off Robinbrooke Boulevard.

Parents are busy, he said, but grandparents often have more time to “do something extra,” he said. 

Kelly Cantrall can be reached at (270) 505-1747 or kcantrall@thenewsenterprise.com.