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Eugene school fetes VIPs

Tanner Pappas shows his grandfather Roy Rutledge how to use the newest piece of technology to be introduced into the Eugene classroom during VIP Day held Friday morning.

Tanner Pappas shows his grandfather Roy Rutledge how to use the newest piece of technology to be introduced into the Eugene classroom during VIP Day held Friday morning. Photo by Michelle Brooks.

EUGENE, Mo. — A gleeful “Grandpa!” came from within Kristi Leeds’ second-grade classroom Friday morning.

It was VIP Day at Cole County R-V Elementary School.

A parade of parents, grandparents and other special people in the young students’ lives left a breakfast hosted by the school’s PTO to spend a couple of hours in their student’s classroom.

As these “very important people” found chairs next to the tiny desks in Leeds’ room, the population more than doubled. More than half the students had one, often two, adults sitting beside them.

“There’s a lot of people in here,” an enthusiastic student said.

The VIP Day has been part of the Eugene school year for more than 16 years, said Principal Dan Smith. Because of its popularity, the older grades and younger grades were divided.

More than 200 attended the fall visit and at least that many attended Friday, Smith said.

For some like Tanner Pappas’ grandfather Roy Rutledge, this may be the first time in decades for them to be in a classroom.

“This is a lot different than when I was in school,” Rutledge said.

For others like Abigail Barr’s mother, Debbie Barr, who is a room parent and school volunteer, this was a chance to see the everyday work their children do.

“This was my first time to see the technology in use,” Debbie Barr said.

The adults were amazed.

“To keep up with technology these days, they really do have to learn a lot, don’t they?” said Bonnie Graham, grandmother to Alyssa Graham. “Because of video games, I guess they’re familiar with all these steps.”

Each student in Leeds’ classroom had a calculator-like device when the visitors arrived.

They soon learned these were the new “clickers” their students had been talking about.

“This is special, to see exactly what he’s doing,” said Michelle Lupardus, mother of Jackson Lupardus.

Students eagerly demonstrated timed math tests, which they turned in through the device, new to Eugene elementary classrooms this school year. Before clickers, the students had to fill in standardized bubble sheets.

“I’m glad these are gone,” Leeds said.

Moving on to reading demonstrations on the Smartboard, several dads were drawn to the interactive technology’s capabilities.

“I was not aware of how much math and reading they really do,” said Jackson’s father, Doug Lupardus. “And the technology was really cool.”

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