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With school districts closed nationwide due to the coronavirus pandemic, a group of California teachers organized a 50-car neighborhood parade to bring students a moment of joy.
On Friday, teachers, administrators and staff members from the San Marcos Unified School District formed the parade with 50 vehicles, driving past the homes of students, who stood outside. With signs in their windows, horns honking and celebratory music blaring, the cars served as a bright spot during a challenging time.
“We were inspired by another school in the midwest that had done something similar and posted about it on social media,” Mandy Bedard, the principal of La Costa Meadows Elementary in Carlsbad, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “That really sparked the interest for us.”
Teachers in other states have reportedly formed similar parades in Texas, Minnesota and Indiana.
Live-streamed on the school Facebook page, the teachers can be seen plotting their journey from campus. Two educators named Caren Cherveny and Cindy Pacino, spearheaded the effort which took at least eight hours of planning. They analyzed housing developments, apartments and streets to find a path that reached the most students while still maintaining proper social distancing. To practice, Pacino drove the route six times.
“Alright, good morning everybody! Dolphins!” Pacino says in the video, referring to the school’s mascot. “This is the staff. We’re in the parking lot here, wave to everybody! We’re going to be starting our parade route. We’re all coming out to see you everyone, I hope you’re following us live!”
“Look at this line of cars, it’s incredible,” she says. “....Get ready, we’re coming for you!”
Livestreaming the two-hour event allowed as many people as possible to enjoy the parade, while also considering the safety concerns of families who didn’t want to stay outside for too long.
“There were a lot of tears,” Bedard tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “It was a great way to safely connect with our kids and let them know that we love them. It’s a really difficult time, but we’re going to get through this together.”
Cherveny says the parade was an important moment for the teachers, as well. “It's been hard, not only on the kids, but on us as teachers and second family members,” she tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “We’re the continuity for a lot of kids. For some, school is their safe haven. It was important to let them know that we haven’t gone away and we're waiting for them.”
“Seeing our faces was monumental for them,” Pacino tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “And we needed it as teachers. We truly miss them.”
The teachers are now hard at work distributing technology so students can continue learning at home, while also implementing a distance-learning plan.
“What took place yesterday is a demonstration of our community,” says Bedard. “We are a family and we're all here to support each other.”
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