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St. Mark School in Catonsville holds annual Grandparent's Day

For Bobbie Reinecke-Prestianni, 73, a visit to St. Mark School in Catonsville, her alma mater, was so nostalgic she was moved to tears.

Her return was part of the school's annual Grandparent's Day, held to allow grandparents to spend time with their grandchildren before the Thanksgiving holiday.

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It brought many generations of present and former students at the Catholic school, which was founded in 1889, together.

"I grew up on Montrose [Avenue], walked to school through the snow — those boring old people stories," said Reinecke-Prestianni, who graduated from the school in 1955. "It brings back so many memories."

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She spent the morning with her seven grandchildren at the school: Andrew Heff, 11; 9-year-old triplets Molly, Sophia and Amelia Heff; Grant Gumbel, 10; Anastasia Gumbel, 8; and Francesca Gumbel, 5.

The day began at 8:30 a.m. with an all-school prayer service. Between 9:30 and 11:30 a.m. roughly 400 grandparents spent the morning in class with their grandchildren.

For eighth-grade teacher Terry Ferro, 47, an alumna of the school, it was a way to teach her students a lesson about the immigrants who entered the U.S. through Ellis Island, which processed 12 million immigrants between 1892 and 1924.

Students interviewed their grandparents about their journey to the U.S., Ferro said.

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"Grandparents are so knowledgeable and I try to tap into that knowledge with my Grandparent's Day lesson," said Ferro, whose two children, now grown, attended the school.

Lynne Lee, who graduated from the school in 1955, sat with her grandson, Jace Taranto, 6, a first-grader at the school.

Jace, the fourth generation in his family to attend the school, said spending the day with his grandmother made him feel, "happy."

"The education keeps up with the fast pace of everything," Lee said, remarking that the size and population of the school has grown since she attended.

"It's like a second home," Lee said, looking at her grandson, "It's like a second home, isn't it?"

The day was also a reunion for many grandparents like Reinecke-Prestianni and Lee, who caught up with former classmates.

"It's very comforting to see the traditions have lasted, good teaching has lasted and the good, solid values," Reinecke-Prestianni said. "It gives me great confidence in the years to come that we have these young people learning these core values that I got."

Stephanie Rattell, vice principal of the school for two years, said grandparents are a large part of the school community.

"It's a way to say thank you to them for all they do for us," said Stephanie Rattell, vice principal of the school, located on Melvin Avenue. "We have grandparents who come in and volunteer at recess, at lunchtime, in the art room, drop their grandchildren off at school — they do a lot."

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