Diefenbaker School parade shows growth of concept in Prince Albert

The Diefenbaker School parade wound through the Crescent Heights area of the city Thursday morning./Michael Oleksyn Daily Herald

Winding their way through the Crescent Heights area of Prince Albert on Thursday morning was another tribute to students and families in schools. John Diefenbaker Public School and their parade wound its way through the neighbourhood to say hello to all of their students and families.

According to Principal Roy Feschuk the idea came after the success of the parades by Ecole Arthur Pechey and W.J. Berezowsky School a few weeks ago and wanted to keep the momentum rolling.

“I mean the whole idea of teaching and being in schools is building on relationships with your community,” Feschuk said.

Feschuk said that on the last day of school before COVID-19 ended the in-class school year the school was down to a mere two students.

“Educators, educational associates, teachers, principals, school-based social workers — the whole gamut — they thrive on the interactions and the relationships with kids so the idea of encouraging a physically distanced parade that gets us out in the community, gets us letting families know we are still here, hey we have still got services going on at the school,” Feschuk said.

The Diefenbaker School parade with 52 vehicles in total wound through the Crescent Heights area of the city Thursday morning.

One example is the Community Cares Kitchen Food on the Move Brown Bag program which is run by Natalie Guimond and is handing out 200 lunches a week.

“We are actually starting to receive some big uptake with her so it is very cool and we really appreciate her advocacy.”

The parade had contributions from important partners with emergency responders including the Prince Albert Fire Department, Prince Albert Police Service and Parkland Ambulance taking part in the 13.5 km route, which took around one hour and twenty minutes to complete. Fifty-two vehicles took part.

Feschuk described all of the agencies as great partners.

Students and families were out as the Diefenbaker School parade wound through the Crescent Heights area of the city Thursday morning.

Mann-Northway contributed five vehicles including convertibles and the colourful “Skittles Cars” which added to the sense of fun. Anderson Motors also tried to get them a vehicle as well but the timing did not work out.

According to Feschuk ,everyone was very generous, offering what they could for the cause. Feschuk said the momentum from this parade and the partnerships developed should expand as these parades continue happening.

“Other schools are going to be getting on this so you are going to be seeing other partnerships forming as other schools reach back out to their communities from a safe distance and just show that we are better together and we are still here and we have got you with what you need,” Feschuk said.

Connections are also being maintained with familie in the north who went back home after the pandemic started. Feschuk explained that the teachers remain in touch with multiple meetings.

“We are hosting what we can in the way of virtual meetings. We are trying to make sure that there is no digital divide and we are offering Supplemental Learning packages on paper with a whole bunch of other pieces met to make sure we are COVID compliant and not doing anything to transmit other parts of this virus to other parts of the community,” Feschuk said.

“It has really changed the way we do things but the one thing that you still see is the thriving of relationships,” Feshuck said.

Students who could not be there had their photos displayed by teachers to highlight them. Saskatchewan Rivers School Division trustees Arne Lindberg and Bill Yeaman participated in a division vehicle.

People were encouraged overnight Wednesday to tune in. Feschuk paid tribute to the community as a large part of the parade.

“We live in an amazing community, Prince Albert has got to be one of the best places in Canada to live and the support and the power of people pulling together makes it a great place to be,” Feschuk said.