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A different goodbye at JYMS

By Rachel Wartian

Staff Writer

John Yeates Middle School closed another school year with more emotion as the middle school said see you later to the students and goodbye to a staff member in a heartwarming end of the year video.

The John Yeates Middle School staff came together to make a video for their students’ last day. It showed staff members on the front lawn waving goodbye in their JYMS spirit ware and holding signs. This farewell is a tradition for the last day for teachers to wave goodbye.

“This has been a challenging year,” said Principal Dr. Wendy VanHosen. “We, as a staff, wanted to reconnect everyone in a positive way. My goal as a principal is to make the families, staff and students feel connected, especially in times like this.”

Unfortunately, remote learning and social distancing are not the only challenges John Yeates Middle School faced this year. The school’s security monitor, Kolley Lewis, passed away from COVID-19.

Being the security monitor, he was the first face that families and students would see walking in the door. Despite being at the school for only two years, he was well known by the families. Besides being a security monitor, Lewis was also known as Coach Lewis. He coached the girls’ and boys’ basketball teams as well as football. He also helped with the school’s Crime Stoppers organization that helps students keep their communities safe.

The loss of Lewis made this virus hit home for the students and staff.

“He was well connected,” said Dr. VanHosen. “It was more than losing a staff member. It felt like losing a part of the family.”

The video shows someone grabbing a bag from their locker before boarding a bus to go home. As the bus rounds the corner, the teachers are standing on the lawn waving goodbye. These actions were to re-enact what students usually see and do on a normal last day of school.

As they made this video, the staff of John Yeates Middle School made sure to take proper precautions.

“We made sure all teachers wore masks and used hand sanitizer before interacting,” said Dr. VanHosen. “We painted marks on the ground to mark the proper six-foot distance for them to stand on the lawn.”

Since most teachers had not seen each other since the school’s cancellation in March, it was a great experience to come together to make a fun video for the students and reconnect, Dr. VanHosen said.