NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – For one day each year, the average age of a Bethel College student goes way up with, however, no accompanying drop in energy level.
That would be the annual Grandparents Day, which this year turned 25 on April 25 and likely had its all-time high in attendance, with 135 registered. On this day, grandparents attend classes and convocation and eat a meal in the cafeteria with their grandchildren.
“2008 was a banner year for Grandparents Day,” said Dave Linscheid, Bethel College’s director of Alumni Relations, who also works with the Student Alumni Association, which organizes Grandparents Day. “One hundred thirty-five guests attending is a record number within my memory. I don’t have numbers handy before 2000, but know we had four more folks than in 2001, the previous recent high.”
This was Linscheid’s ninth Grandparents Day. His observation has been that “grandparents are always glad to come. For some, it’s the first time they’ve been on the Bethel campus, especially if they [live] far away.”
Linscheid especially enjoys watching the students as they greet their grandparents in the Fine Arts Center lobby. “Seeing the tall basketball players and big football players offer hugs is fun. Sometimes students oversleep so we need to phone them to tell them their grandparents are waiting for them. It’s always an enjoyable day for students as well as guests, with lots of positive feedback from the grandparents.”
Iona Applegate of Arlington has been coming to Grandparents Day for over a decade, since sometime after her grandson Chad Childs first came to Bethel in 1995. At least one and sometimes more of her grandchildren has been at Bethel College ever since – Jacob Larson, Kristin Larson, Leah Larson and now Kate Larson (all from Clay Center). This year, Iona and her sister Louise Fay spent the day with their granddaughter and great-niece Kate.
Kate will graduate in May, and next year will be the first in long while that Iona doesn’t have a grandchild at Bethel, since Kate’s youngest sibling, Greta, will still be in high school. However, Iona hopes she’ll be able to return for the 2009-10 school year Grandparents Day.
Harold and Rosemary Moyer of North Newton have been attending the event since their daughter Janet Regier’s oldest son, Daniel, was a freshman – he graduated in 2005. His sister Miriam finishes her degree in May, but youngest brother Peter is a freshman, so his grandparents can come to Grandparents Day for a few years yet.
Miriam and Peter were among a small group of Bethel students who got to host all four of their grandparents – the Moyers as well as Edwin and Ella Regier, Newton. Ed and Ella also visited with their grandson Mark Abrahams, whose other grandparents, Ethel and Norman Abrahams, North Newton, attended Grandparents Day as well.
And Art and Ruth Schmidt, North Newton, got a double benefit from spending a day on campus – they could go to class with one of their granddaughters, senior Katy Schmidt or freshman Alison Schmidt-Tieszen, or check up on their daughter, Professor of Social Work Ada Schmidt-Tieszen.
Bethel College, located in North Newton, is a four-year liberal arts college affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. Founded in 1887, it is the oldest Mennonite college in North America. Bethel is known for its academic excellence and has been named a Top Tier college by U.S. News & World Report every year since 1998. For more information, see the Bethel web site at www.bethelks.edu.