People in the area of Lincoln Heights Elementary School may not hear the din of school bells daily as schools are closed for the rest of the year, but they were greeted with the sounds of celebration Tuesday as teachers did a drive-by parade for their students.
Some of the students gathered on Avenue C in advance near the school, trying to catch glimpses of their favorite teachers and staff members.
“I am a little emotional,” parent Brandy Courier, who joined her first grader, Bryce, in waving at teachers as they passed by, horns honking, music blaring and shouts filling the air. Bryce wanted to see his teacher, Natalee Schmidt. “I didn’t realize how much we miss that interaction.”
Teachers planned to drive through the community, starting at the school in the 2200 block of Avenue C, and hoping to pass by the homes of most of their students.
“I think it is amazing,” parent Loddie Mercer said of the parade as she and her two girls, Shiloh and Sophie, both third graders stood on a corner and enjoyed the parade.
“It was awesome.”
First grader Gia Foote and her dad, Dale, lined up across the street from Lincoln Heights. Gia had made two posters, touting her love for her teacher, Julene Clarkson. She’s missed her teacher, she said, saying she had a nightmare this week. Her dad said the girl has missed her teacher and school. He brought the girl to line up 30 minutes before the parade was to start, so that Gia could see her teacher. She hung around again afterward, hoping to catch her teacher returning to the school.
Asked about the other things she missed about school, she said, “The food. I love to eat.”
The children weren’t the only ones missing their school. Though there were jokes about the remote learning — “I did my hair. I did my make up” — the daily interaction with students is also missed by the teachers and staff.
“We are in this together,” read one sign, on the car of kindergarten teacher Lori Blehm. Her daughter, physical education teacher Amy Lease, said that one of the teachers, Misty Adams, saw schools in other districts doing the drive-by parades and thought that it was a great idea to add to the ways that teachers are trying to let kids know that teachers still care about them during this time. Lease said she saw nearly all of the classroom teachers lined up in the parade, specialists such as music and physical education teachers, and lots of paraeducators. Secretary Jennifer Galindo led the organization efforts and the parade Tuesday.
“We love our students,” read a sign on another vehicle, which teachers and paraducators echoed. Jonathan Schadegg, a paraeducator, said that teachers and staff form a close bond with the children through the year.
“I have missed just seeing my students. I have missed seeing their smiling faces,” he said, noting the unexpectedness of the school closures for the rest of the year due to the efforts to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
During this time, teachers have been trying to keep in contact with students, engaging with them through weekly online meetings, lessons and at Lincoln Heights, a daily online meeting.
“We want our students to know that we still care about them during this crazy time,” Lease said.
Schools in Gering and other schools in Scottsbluff have also been hosting drive-by parades. Other parades are also planned and parents are being notified by the school’s through methods from Facebook to apps.