Outside Saint Anselm Catholic Academy, a group of parents patiently stands, staring at the transparent school doors like hungry restaurant customers scrutinizing a menu.
The stillness is interrupted by the swift and precarious leap of a little girl off a bright blue Lego-styled bench. Savannah’s vivid pink shirt and flower print pants flutter in the air for a couple of seconds before she lands, straight under her grandfather’s stern look. Ed Volpi, 68, pulls her close to him, and then turns around to reassure the alarmed parents who had shared his concern.
The two of them then look at each other for a couple of seconds, but the seriousness quickly breaks into a smile. The apprehensive grandfather releases one-and-a-half-year old Savannah, but keeps an eye on her while she returns to play on her beloved bench.
“We try to do as much as we can during the day and then we come to pick up her sister from school,” says Volpi.
Savannah’s sister, Sienna, 4, was apparently not particularly pleased with the news of having to go back to school this year. “She cries every morning before getting here,” says Volpi, looking almost guilty for having to witness it. “But at least every day it’s a little less.”
As the time gets closer and closer to when Sienna and her classmates would come storming out of the academy’s doors, more parents keep arriving and turning to the doors, like sunflowers to the rays of the sun. One of them carries a sports bag and a helmet, another a shiny yellow scooter, and a group of moms in color-coded hair-bands are holding color-coded lunchboxes filled with snacks.
“When she gets out, she’s happy,” says Volpi, while Savannah finally sits down to rest after her acrobatic performances. “The day is really long for her, but when she sees her friends she feels better.”
Then he eyes the little one. “Savannah still doesn’t go to school, but she will too soon,” says Volpi winking at Savannah, who glances back at him in awe.