For over three decades, Tampa Prep has invited the grandparents of current students to spend a day on campus for a firsthand look at what goes on in the classroom.
Grandparents Day started in 1987 and became an instant success, with over 100 grandparents coming from all over the state to spend the day with their grandchildren. Prep graduate Ben Older’s ’89 grandmother even flew in from New York and missed her husband’s birthday to be there “just for the day,” according to the Winter 1987 issue of Tempo.
“I thought it was fantastic that my grandmother was able to come see me and my sister in our high school environment,” Older says. Older says it was special to share his Tampa Prep experience with a family member because he was so proud of what he was up to at school, and if he had not felt so positive about Prep, his grandmother might not have made the effort to attend the inaugural Grandparents Day. “Her coming to see me at Tampa Prep was probably a function of the pride that I felt in what I was doing there,” he says.
On Friday, Feb. 9, Prep welcomed grandparents for the 31st time. Although many things at Prep have changed over the years, this tradition remains a consistent success. Gail Whiting helped start Grandparents Day back in ’87, but now she enjoys the event with her own grandchildren. “To come as a grandparent is just so interesting,” she says. “It’s very fun to come and see how the School has prospered and how many grandparents come out.”
Both Older and Whiting are proud to have been there for the first iteration of what became an important Prep tradition. “To be part of what continues in the bedrock for the School is nice to know,” Older says. “When you have history and people become a part of that history, it builds a strong institution and gives us all something to be a part of.”