news 3 days ago

Taylor schools reconnect with students with parades

Kokomo Tribune, Ind. — Adam Gilbert Kokomo Tribune, Ind.

May 23-- May 23--For what felt like the first time in forever, Taylor Community School Corp. students saw many of their teachers, administrators and bus drivers during two parades over the course of three days.

Teachers take show on road

On Tuesday, a teacher-organized parade set forth from the Taylor Elementary School parking lot and traveled through the Indian Heights neighborhood and beyond, giving teachers and other school officials the chance to see the students they've missed so much.

According to kindergarten teacher and parade organizer Sarah Fleek, the parade was something the teachers wanted to do at the beginning of the pandemic but delayed due to travel restrictions. Once the restrictions were lifted, there was support from all sides of the corporation for the parade.

"We're such a close knit Taylor community that we really wanted to say goodbye to the kids," she said. "We miss them and know they miss us, so it's our way of showing support to them."

"I miss my kids -- seeing their smiles."

Fleek hoped the students would see how appreciated they are by their teachers and know they care for and miss their charges.

The long line of cars on parade, led by a fire truck, were adorned with balloons, messages of encouragement and creative signs.

According to kindergarten teacher Jenny Drang, while she enjoys being able to see her kids through virtual learning, there's nothing like seeing them in person. She was also excited for the comfort the parade could provide to the young children trying to understand the complexity of the situation everyone is in.

"It's been emotionally hard for some of them," she said of her kindergartners. "They don't understand the point that they can't come back to school or they can't go in at the moment."

Despite the rainy weather, crowds still turned out for the parade, taking cover under umbrellas and inside cars as horns from the passing teachers blared on.

One student excited to see the parade, which included her principal from Taylor Elementary School Matt Nuttall, was Elli Wagaman. After missing her teacher a lot, she said the parade was a good time.

Buses on parade

Two days later on Thursday, two fire trucks, an ambulance and more led 10 Taylor buses through a similar route from the high school to reunite students with their bus drivers.

Taylor Transportation Coordinator and bus driver Cynde McQueary was ready to get out on the road and see so many of the kids while giving them encouragement.

"The kids we see on Fridays for Buddy Bags is only about half of what we usually get on our routes ...," she said. "I know they miss [the drivers] and you really just get attached to them. They're like one of your own kids and you love them a lot.

"It's important that the kids know we haven't forgot about them."

Messages such as "we will get through this together" and "you are loved" were drawn on bus windows. Along the parade route, participants tossed items to the gathered students from their buses. Kids took home fun treats including candy and even special T-shirts to make the day a special moment.

In one of the vehicles was Taylor Superintendent Chris Smith, who commended the drivers on organizing the event. He noted the drivers have a special bond with the kids, getting to see them at the start and end of every day.

Smith added he's sad they weren't able to honor and celebrate the seniors like the school usually does, but is eagerly looking forward to graduation which currently is scheduled for July 24.

Waiting at a church outside Indian Heights was Georgia Keller, along with her children, Adrianne and Bradley Reynolds. After missing the teacher parade Tuesday, Keller was unwavering in her desire of coming out Thursday to show support back to the schools.

"It brings the community together and shows the community support during this time, " Keller said. "[The kids] have been cooped up ... the bus drivers miss them."

A bus driver since October, Lisa Boring was ready to hit the pavement in her decorated bus that featured drawings of kids on the windows.

Boring described the experience as difficult due to how much she loves the kids. So, when she heard about the parade, Boring jumped at the chance to be involved. She already got to see some while delivering Buddy Bagsn but this gave her an opportunity to see even more of the students she missed.

"When I do Buddy Bags -- I've had one of them even cry because he couldn't give me a hug. It's been hard," she said before she got ready to go see the kids who drive her bus-driving passion. "I love listening to them talk to me about their lives and what's going on at home and school."

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