Photo by Joe Boyle
Students display signs from their car windows to send messages to their teachers at Oak Ridge Elementary School in Palos Hills. A parade allowed families to drive through the parking lot on Saturday morning to greet teachers and administrators at the school.
By Joe Boyle
Students who attend two Palos Hills schools were not able to say goodbye to the faculty and administrators due to the spread of the novel coronavirus.
That is until Saturday morning.
Students who were accompanied by other siblings and parents took part in simultaneous parking lot parades that were held at Oak Ridge Elementary School, 8791 W. 103rd St., and Sorrick Elementary School, 7825 W. 103rd St.
"We just wanted to say goodbye to the students and the families that we weren't able to do earlier," said Kevin Buscemi, principal at Oak Ridge School.
Illinois schools were ordered closed last month by Gov. J.B. Pritzker due to the pandemic. School officials were informed at the end of April that classes will not meet for the rest of the school year.
Buscemi and other administrators saw that coming so the idea of holding parades for the two North Palos School District 117 facilities was discussed. Oak Ridge accepts students in second through fifth grade. Sorrick welcomes students in pre-kindergarten through first grade.
Other local school districts have held parades where faculty and staff drive through the adjacent neighborhoods and wave and greet students and their families near their homes.
The parades organized for both Oak Ridge and Sorrick were different in that the families drove through slowly the school parking lots to say goodbye and greet their teachers, administrators and other staff members.
"Have a great summer," Buscemi and other teachers at Oak Ridge said to students and parents as they slowly drove by.
Many of the families wanted to show their appreciation for the Oak Ridge staff. A lot of the passing vehicles included balloons and placards stating their appreciation and love for specific teachers.
"This was great and the weather was perfect, too," Buscemi said.
Meanwhile, another parade was taking place along 103rd Street. Natalie Profita, principal at Sorrick School, said they also talked about the idea about having a parade for the kids and families.
"We felt this was a good idea," said Profita, who was carrying a loudspeaker that she used to greet the families. "And the weather is perfect, too. We really wanted to do this. We have good teachers here."
Like the Oak Ridge parade, families drove into the parking lot of Sorrick, greeted by office employee Mary Ann Lebarre, who was dressed as the school mascot, a cougar.
Teachers then lined up throughout the parking lot and said hi to the students and their parents. Many of the teachers also made placards wishing the students and their families a good summer.
During both parking lot parades, parents who were driving through beeped their horns as they slowly proceeded through the parade.
Teachers and administrators at both locations said that under the circumstances, this was a great way to connect with the students and their families.
"This was a good way to say hi to the students and families," Profita said. "It was a good way to end the school year."