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Grandpa for the win

Persuasive writing contest selects teacher’s costume

Fifth grader Taylor Graham, dressed as soccer star Alex Morgan, persuaded teacher Matt Jablonski to come to school for Halloween dressed as a grandpa

Murray Lake Elementary teacher Matt Jablonski hobbled into class on Friday using a cane. With his grey hair and beard, fake glasses and a little louder voice than usual (because of his fading hearing; get it?), Jablonski had seemingly become a grandfather overnight.

Classmates of Taylor Graham had her to thank for their teacher’s costume. Taylor submitted what Jablonski determined to be the most solid written argument among the class. For the past few years, that’s how he has decided what to wear for Halloween.

“It’s always fun because they never know who won until the moment I walk into the classroom,” he said.

The persuasive writing assignment is part of the fifth grade opinion writing unit. Students were charged with coming up with an idea for a costume, supporting the idea with whys, and using evidence, facts and details.

Teacher Matt Jablonski with last year’s winner, McGuire Carpenter. Jablonski dressed up as Jim Harbaugh, University of Michigan head football coach (courtesy photo)

“I had a lot of ideas,” Taylor said. “Grandpa was the funniest thing I could think of for him to be.”

The costume could have been decidedly different had Jablonski gone with any other student’s suggestion. Like Mady Hayes and Brooklyn Haywood’s idea that he dress as a University of Michigan cheerleader. Or Jahlin Clemenshaw: “a lightbulb with an afro clown wig.” Or Jacqui Hoke, who came up with “a donut, with a swirly frosting hat and fake felt sprinkles (because) I have never seen a human donut before.”

Maybe next year, Mr. Jablonski.

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Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema is a Grand Rapids native and a product of Grand Rapids Public Schools, including Brookside and West Leonard elementaries, City Middle/High School and Ottawa Hills. She found her tribe in journalism in 1997 and has never wanted to do anything but write. For 15 years she was a freelance journalist for The Grand Rapids Press, covering local schools and government, religion, business, home & garden and lifestyles. She and her husband, John, think even those without kiddos should be invested in their local schools and made to feel a part of them. Read Morgan's full bio or email Morgan.

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