Grandparents get involved at Deerfield High School
Deerfield resident Jerry Witkovsky is shown with his two eldest grandchildren, Jessica Cervantes and Ethan Witkovsky. | Photos courtesy of Kathryn Cervantes
Updated: October 18, 2012 9:48AM
DEERFIELD — Deerfield resident Jerry Witkovsky vividly remembers one specific car ride five years ago driving his granddaughter home from Caruso Middle School.
Witkovsky asked her how her day at school was, as he always did. He expected a typical, noncommittal answer because that’s what he’d always gotten. But that day he got something else.
“She turned and looked at me and said, ‘Grandpa, I’m more than just a student,’” he recalled.
Witkovsky, who is a retired social worker, reflected on the outburst and concluded that grandparents like himself should have more tools to be greater parts of their grandchildren’s lives.
Shortly after that memorable car ride, Witkovsky volunteered to help Deerfield High School officials craft a program just for grandparents.
Twice a year, grandparents who have freshmen at DHS, are invited to the school for two sessions — one in the fall and another in the spring. The sessions are designed to help grandparents understand what their grandchildren are up to and how to help them through school.
The program has been running for at least five years now, but this year there are some new changes, said Judi Luepke, who heads up the grandparents program at DHS.
For the first time, sophomore students’ grandparents will have their own sessions and additional programs for junior and senior students’ grandparents will be offered as early as next year, Luepke explained.
Also, new this year is a grandparents newsletter that’s written by students. The first installment is almost finished, and it’s expected to be posted to the school’s website, she said.
The freshmen session will be between 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Oct. 16 at the high school, 1959 Waukegan Road. Based on past years’ attendances, about 100 grandparents are expected to show up to learn more about the lives of their grandchildren.
They’ll learn about the major transition their grandchildren are going through and how technology has changed education, Luepke said. They also will be treated to a video clip that takes them on a tour of the high school where they’ll see various departments.
“We provide basic information about teens to grandparents and what questions to ask their grandchildren, Luepke said.
A sophomore session for grandparents is slated for Oct. 24 at the school. At this session, grandparents will learn about how to keep in touch with their grandchildren through technology, including iPhones, Skype and email. The school is expecting between 50 and 75 grandparents, she said.