MARILYN HAGERTY: Grand Cities fourth-graders love grandpas who take them fishing

"My great-grandma Irene inspires me because she was a teacher, and when I grow up I want to be a teacher. I will try my hardest to get a great college education, so I can be as good of a teacher as she was ..."...

"My great-grandma Irene inspires me because she was a teacher, and when I grow up I want to be a teacher. I will try my hardest to get a great college education, so I can be as good of a teacher as she was ..."

Those were some of the words of Maddy Frost from East Grand Forks Sacred Heart School in her essay titled, "My Favorite Older American." Maddy was one of 34 fourth-graders from Greater Grand Forks invited to read their winning essays at the annual tea sponsored this past week by Service Providers for Seniors with Karen Hillman as chairwoman.

The children came with their grandparents, or neighbors and friends who are older. The words of the children brought tears mingled with laughter. It is at this annual "read-off" that the words of children are heard.

They love older people who have time to listen to them. They love grandpas who take them fishing. They love grandmas who play Scrabble.

They call a spade a spade. One child wrote about her grandmother's wig and said point blank, "She wears it because she has cancer."


Jayron Mardani of Phoenix Elementary wrote about his grandpa, who originally came from Iran. He said, in part, "My grandpa can repair anything or build anything. He has magic hands. We look at maps together. We look at stars and planets together."

Natalie Wald of South Point Elementary in East Grand Forks has a grandma who has a big kitchen and a big garden. On Saturdays, she welcomes the grandchildren and lets them bring their pets into her neat house on the farm. And, Natalie writes, "She makes the best pancakes ever."

When his grandma Paulette picks him up at school, they talk the whole way home. In his winning essay, Cole Stenseth of Viking Elementary said they even have secret names for each other. "When we get to her house, she makes me a snack and lets me do whatever I want to do. It's hard to leave when my parents come to pick me up."

Natalie Johnson of West Elementary and her Grandpa Johnson make houses out of popsicle sticks. They do all sorts of crazy things. She wrote, "We love to make cubes of Jell-O and try to suck them up without using hands. It is sooooooo much fun!"

In his description of his grandparents, D.J. Yarbro of Winship Elementary wrote, "My grandparents have always done what they can to make me a better person. Because of this influence, I have been nicer to my sisters and more helpful around the house."

When he asks his Grandpa Roger where his grandmother is, Benjamin Christian of Ben Franklin said his grandpa will always say, "Oh, I threw her in the river." He wrote that was his grandpa's favorite saying. He's proud that his grandpa took part in the Olympic1960 Miracle on Ice team that won the gold medal. His grandpa started the Christian Brothers hockey stick company in Roseau, Minn. But even more important, his grandpa makes either strawberry shakes or chocolate malts.

Morgan Knudsvig of Century Elementary has a grandma who loves to play cards, cook and bake. She works at a cafe in Buxton, N.D., and when Morgan lived there, she would ride her bike to the cafe in the summer. Her grandma Bonnie would make her a Mickey Mouse pancake.

It's things like Jell-O cubes and Mickey Mouse pancakes that add up to the love between children and older Americans. Grandpa Allen who farms near Langdon, N.D., is a hero to his grandson, Will Tibert of Kelly Elementary. He concludes his essay by saying, "Grandpa is a great person, and I hope to someday be like him."


Lexy Flanagan of Kelly Elementary calls her grandma "My Mimi." And she says her Mimi tells her she loves her to the moon and back and all the way around the world."

Other essay winners and their schools are LeAnn Fischer and Seth Brandl, Ben Franklin; Karlee Wehe and Sydney Warcup, Century; Kassidy Johnson, Holy Family/St. Mary's; Jack Holm and Kacy Jiran, J. Nelson Kelly; Jamil Suleiman, Branson Delorme and Alex Elliott, Lake Agassiz; Lauren Ritterman and Ally Byzewski, Lewis and Clark; Lauren Erp and Skylar Knotts, Nathan Twining; Vasariah Robles, Phoenix; Rapha Onyeko, Riverside Christian; Natalie Carlstrom, Kiersten Hemsing, Lexie Estad and Claire Anderson, South Point; Steward Leen, St. Michael's; Alleah Curden, Viking; Carson Williams, West and Brady Moncada, Wilder.

Reach Hagerty at or by telephone at (701) 772-1055.-

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