Chapelle’s Grandparents’ Club tames growling stomachs

It’s mid-morning before lunch, and high school students are experiencing hunger pains. What do they do?

If they attend Archbishop Chapelle, the Grandparents’ Club comes to their rescue once a month with homemade and store-bought treats at a bake sale open during a 10-minute break between classes.

“I love it when they come on treat days, especially on Monday mornings when I need a little extra push,” said ninth-grader Emily Panzavecchia.

“We only have about 15 minutes, but we manage to have something for everyone to buy,” club president Mandy Chocheles said. On Sept. 12, there were brownies, cookies, turtles, pretzels, popcorn and more in various price ranges, but nothing over $1. Proceeds go to the school to use as needed.

Last year, proceeds bought things for the Emerald Gala event, said Susan Panzavecchia, a 1990 graduate who is vice principal of academics. That left the school extra money to equip its science and technology classrooms in the new STEM lab.

Extra hands on campus

The club, formed in the 2016-17 school year, has grown to 72 members that Chocheles calls “Granbassadors.” Its officers are Chocheles; Jessica Brandt, vice president; Kay Bacino, treasurer; and Lynet Cox, secretary. Dues are $10 a year.

“I want to do what I can to help my granddaughter Sydney’s school,” said new member grandparent Melva Duhon, whose two other granddaughters Morgan and Taylor also graduated from Archbishop Chapelle.

In addition to bake sales, the club prepares breakfast for faculty back-to-school week and distributes candy during faculty retreats; helps, if needed, at the Emerald Gala and open houses; hands out candy on the first day of school, on monthly treat days and whenever else they are needed.

In return, the school administrators keep grandparents connected by speaking at meetings.

“In today’s world, a lot of parents are working,” Panzavecchia said. “The grandparents are retired and have more time to volunteer. The girls love to see them here. It makes our students happy and the grandparents happy. It’s a win-win. The grandparents get to see the great things we have here at Chapelle, and several have commented that they have met their granddaughters’ friends that they might not have met had they not been at Chapelle.”

Chocheles said administrators are beginning to realize the significance of the club since they can call on members to hold candy or snack drives at 6:45 a.m.  It has also brought in new students, she said. Grandparents spread the good word about the academic, religious and extracurricular programs they observe at Archbishop Chapelle to other grandparents and then they bring their granddaughters to check out open house.

“I don’t know how many other high schools have grandparents’ clubs, but we are proud that we got this started and are happy to see it grow,” Chocheles said.

For details on the club, contact Kelli George at kgeorge@archbishopchapelle.org.

Christine Bordelon can be reached at cbordelon@clarion herald.org.

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