No classroom, no problem

Teachers are able to see their students through a drive-by parade


Dana Summers

Second-grader Everett Nyffeler helps hold up a sign and waves to the line of cars passing by. The staff of Wheeler Elementary hosted this drive-by parade to let kids know that teachers are still thinking about them. “I made a ‘Honk for my 8th birthday’ sign,” Nyffeler said. I also had a poster that my brother and sister held that said ‘Hello Wheeler Teachers.’”

Dana Summers, Staff Reporter

On Wednesday, April 1, the staff at Wheeler Elementary School showed how much they missed their students by parading their way through the community.

Due to the Coronavirus and the cancellation of the remaining school year, several elementary schools in the Millard area have organized for teachers to participate in these drive-by parades. Following in their footsteps, Wheeler’s staff and assistant principal Brian Gesink planned a similar event for their own school.

The week prior to the parade, staff members shared advertisements through Facebook morning announcements, Zoom meetings and Twitter pages. A route map was also emailed to Wheeler families.

“Staff were not required to participate, but it was amazing to see almost all did,” fifth grade teacher Jackie Polacek said. “Most of us decorated our vehicles with posters, streamers and balloons. Many family members and pets were also along for the ride.”

The administration took safety precautions, reminding staff not to ride together in cars and to maintain social distancing when meeting for departure.

After gathering in the Wheeler parking lot at 2:00 p.m., the line of cars took off together to begin the parade.

“Seeing all of my kiddos and their sweet posters made me quite emotional,” Polacek said. “It made me realize that I miss my school family desperately. One of the most important goals for us is to stay connected and to maintain relationships with our students during this unprecedented time.”

Students were encouraged to come wave from their porch or driveway, and many made signs for their teachers.

“My brother and sister helped me make two posters to hold up,” second-grader Everett Nyffeler said. “It was amazing to see all of the teachers. I miss them a lot.”

Many parents who heard about the parade in advance thought that the event would be beneficial for their kids.

“The parade was great to just let the kids know the teachers still care about them, are thinking about them and showed they want to be a part of the kids’ lives even through this crazy time,” mother Dana Nyffeler said. “Our days don’t really have any planned events, so the parade was something that our whole family was looking forward to.”
After watching the parade themselves, parents were touched by the interactions between their kids and the teachers.

“Everett was jumping up and down with excitement when he saw the first car coming around the bend with balloons on it,” Dana Nyffeler said. “His teacher even tossed him a bag full of goodies and a handwritten note out of her car window. I got a little teary-eyed for a moment. It was just a great and much-needed connection.”

The Wheeler parade along with parades done by other elementary schools has been a great way for kids and teachers to interact with one another during these unusual circumstances.