BUCKHANNON — One of the suggested tips for breaking up the monotony of being quarantined is to take a drive around town.
For the administration, teachers and staff members of Buckhannon Academy Elementary School, they took that advice to heart on Thursday.
The school’s administrators organized a “Teacher’s Parade” with the purpose of reminding students that the teachers were still thinking of them and wanted to see them from a safe distance, of course.
“We saw videos of different schools around the nation doing caravans on Facebook,” remarked Buckhannon Academy’s Assistant Principal Eric Brand. “We knew we had to jump on this idea. Since our students left March 13, really without notice, we’ve been teaching virtually. Kids are our business, so we wanted a way that we could be able to see them, while still keeping social distancing and following national and state mandates.”
A caravan of nearly 35 vehicles containing Buckhannon Academy employees paraded through the town and the Buckhannon Academy attendance area.
The parade, led by Buckhannon City Police Officer and the Buckhannon Academy PRO Officer Mark Stewart, lasted almost two hours as it wound its way through the city streets with teachers waving and giving air hugs to their students.
“The parade was awesome,” remarked Buckhannon Academy fifth-grader Alexis Perry. “It was so nice to see my teachers and principals and the signs they made. I miss them all!”
April Perry, Alexis’ mother commented, “The Buckhannon Academy parade was such a wonderful thing, not only for the students and parents, but for the teachers as well. You could tell how excited they were to see their students and vice versa from their students. What a caring group of individuals Upshur County is blessed to have.”
While the parade was intended as a pick-me-up for the students, it did indeed touch the hearts of the teachers and staff just as much, as Perry mentioned.
“Driving in the caravan was a highlight of my quarantine,” remarked fourth-grade teacher Kristen Hines. “I know it was originally planned to benefit BAES students, but the teachers needed all the smiles, waves and signs just as much.”
Co-worker and fellow fifth-grade teacher Sherri Hoover agreed with Hines’ assessment.
“The parade was just what my heart needed,” remarked fifth-grade teacher Sherri Hoover. “I’ve been missing the kids terribly. Several times during the parade, just being able to see the students’ smiling faces made me cry. Hearing them shout out ‘hello’ and those who called out to me filled me with so much happiness! Being in contact online with them could not compare to actually seeing that they are safe and healthy. Hopefully, we will get back to school even if it’s just for a couple of weeks before the year ends.”
Brand also was caught up in the moment of the parade saying, “I was misty-eyed from the moment we pulled out of the parking lot and there stood three of our students with signs saying that they missed us. We haven’t seen them in person for three weeks, so this parade gave us a piece of our job that we have missed terribly. This was a way to let them know that we haven’t forgotten about them and we still care for them, even when they aren’t in the school building.”
Schools have been closed the last three weeks by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
This week, West Virginia Governor Jim Justice pushed back the return to school to April 30. The governor said he still has hopes students could return, if only for a few weeks.