On Friday afternoon students at École Arthur Pechey Public School located in Prince Albert’s South Hill found a way to communicate how much they missed their teachers.
While school is closed and learning is taking place at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, staff paraded around the school neighbourhood to wave hello to their students.
Principal Brandi Sparboe explained that it was an opportunity to see students again. Those who participated were also encouraged to practice safe social distancing.
“We missed their smiling faces and we hope they get a kick out of it too. I have two kids at home that are missing school. They thought it was a real holiday at first and now they are just getting to that point of missing school. If the kids get a kick out of it and it reminds them that we are thinking of them and that they belong to a community outside of their house and that we are there for them and they can reach out,” Sparboe said.
The parade was the brainchild of the school’s social worker Aryn Peterson and it was part of the school’s focus with the challenges offered by the pandemic. Students and parents lined 26th Street West to greet the parade as it began. The lineup of vehicles stretched for a few blocks and each vehicle was decorated in Arthur Pechey colours and showed Arthur Pechey Eagles pride.
“I think that the message in our school and what is pulling us through this is that there is nothing more important than connection, that is our number one focus and just reminding ourselves of that daily. That’s my message to the staff and to the families,” she said.
Through the staff’s numerous video meetings the idea that they were missing the student’s faces came up several times. That was the springboard for Peterson’s concept.
“She has seen a school in another community somewhere do this and thought ‘gosh that is something that we should do,’” Sparboe said.
“It started really small and we were just going to do this one neighbourhood that some of the kids she was connected to had said that they missed her. Then she invited staff and everyone wanted to be a part of it.”
The concept grew to such an extent that it had to become a parade. They then created a map to pass as many families as they could.
“Unfortunately the downside is we can’t hit every street that we have families on. Being a French Immersion school we have community in quite a broad area in and around Prince Albert. She thought of that so she invited them to come park by the school so that we could see as many as possible,”
Sparboe explained that doing the parade on a Friday was a good way to round out another week of learning at home.
“Every family is going through something different right now and needs something different and we don’t want people putting that academic pressure on themselves we want them focusing on their mental and emotional well-being. I think this is a really good way to support that too,” Sparboe said.