It wasn’t an Easter parade that drew local youngsters out of their houses on Friday morning, March 27.
Instead, teachers and staff members from both Fair Oaks and Magnolia elementary schools did what their counterparts from Cloverland had done a few days before; gathered at their respective school sites and drove a route passing by the homes of many of their students.
Teachers brought brightly painted signs with messages of love and encouragement for students, while many youngsters turning out brought homemade signs of their own, reflecting that love and caring back to the teachers.
“The parade was absolutely amazing,” admitted Magnolia Principal Janet Hamby. “Many of our staff were devastated on the last day of school and left for the closure in tears. This staff parade provided an uplifting experience for them. Many had decorated their vehicles with signs, streamers, balloons, and one teacher even had each student’s name on her windows.”
The parade participants were not shy with the car and truck horns and often drew waves and smiles from those just passing by on the street, unaware of the ‘parade’ occurring.
“It truly was their happiest day since we had to close. Relationships are a huge piece of what we are all about and the quarantine has put a damper on that. The parade provided us an opportunity to connect, albeit briefly, with the reasons we come to work every day,” Hamby added. “Our students are also missing seeing our staff. Many of them were dressed in their Magnolia spirit wear and had signs for their teachers. Our students spend a significant amount of time with our staff and I am sure they are feeling the loss of relationships as much as our staff. It was great to see the turnout and hopefully connect with us and help them feel some connection to the familiar in these uncertain times.”
Among the youngsters waiting to watch the parade pass by was Magnolia student Dwight Skinner-Howard, a fifth grader.
“I tried to do a picture of the earth kicking the coronavirus’s butt,” he explained of his poster, with a shout out to his teacher also included.
As far as the stay at home directive, Dwight said that Friday “was a minimum day,” as his mom was only giving spelling and vocabulary tests that day.
At Fair Oaks, not only was the Falcon mascot in attendance along the parade route, but Principal Kathy Pinol said 39 staff members came to take part. Tyler Peregoy, 13, was in costume as the Falcon while sisters Sydney, 10, and Rylee, 7, stood up through the sunroof on another vehicle to show signs along the route. Mom Becky Peregoy is a second grade teacher at Fair Oaks.
The staff members organized in the parking lot before heading out and many, like Peregoy, had their own children ride along in their vehicle as well.
Kindergarten student Gavin Harris and second grader Olivia O’Neal from Fair Oaks had their signs ready to share as the parade passed by their viewing spot on Oak Avenue.
“It was a very, very uplifting, happy-all-over feeling day,” said Pinol. “Seeing the smiling faces of the families and hearing the children’s voices brought tears to our eyes. Many of us shared that it was ‘the best day’ in weeks!”