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VIDEO: Lochside Elementary teachers missing their students plan parade through community

Firetruck, cars covered in signs, balloons wove down nearby streets to visit students

It’s not every day Saanich residents get to see a parade of teachers coming down their streets but on Wednesday afternoon, that’s exactly what Lochside Elementary School students witnessed.

On April 22, a caravan of teachers and staff – led by a fire truck with lights and sirens blaring – paraded through the community to say hello to their students who are isolated from one another due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Despite the rain, teachers decorated their vehicles with balloons, posters and streamers and marshalled outside the elementary school on Wednesday morning. The parade route took the group all through the school’s catchment area – down side roads and cul-de-sacs alike – so that they could visit as many students as possible from the safety of their cars.

The school’s bright green mascot, the Lochside Lizard, brought up the rear and waved to students from the moon-roof of the last vehicle. Families and kids with colourful raincoats and umbrellas lined the streets to wave to their teachers who they hadn’t seen in more than a month. Many were carrying signs and posters they’d made to show their teachers as the parade passed by.

“It was so great,” said Lochside kindergarten teacher Carolin McDonnell. “I, myself, got emotional.”

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Teacher librarian Laura Molloy pitched the idea for the parade during a virtual staff meeting and everyone loved the idea, McDonnell said. She created the route and other details fell into place. The rain wasn’t ideal but McDonnell pointed out that when events don’t quite go as planned, they usually end up being more memorable.

She said the parade was part of an effort to stay connected to students as “remote learning in a crisis” doesn’t match the classroom experience. Students miss socializing and so do their teachers.

“We’re all trying to find ways to keep that relationship going” with the students, McDonnell said. “We all needed this.”

The students were so excited to see the fire truck leading the parade, McDonnell added. In the true community spirit, the truck was driven by a teacher’s husband who is a member of the Saanich Fire Department.

McDonnell acknowledged that teachers felt bad about driving in a parade on Earth Day but decided that having the teachers drive out to the students was better for the environment than having the families drive to the school.

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