• 55°

Elementary students say goodbye

By Rachel Wartian and Tracy Agnew

Suffolk elementary schools are coming up with creative ways to say goodbye to their students, especially their fifth-grade students, now that the school year has ended.

Kilby Shores Elementary School said goodbye to its students with a farewell parade through the surrounding neighborhoods on Monday.

At the end of each school year, the Kilby Shores Elementary School staff usually stands on the front lawn as the buses leave after circling a few extra times. There is a bunch of waving, bubbles, Silly String and other elements that give a close to the school year that the students can enjoy.

Lorri Banks, the principal at Kilby Shores Elementary School, felt the need to give a new kind of closure to the students and staff.

“The teachers have still been meeting with the students throughout the year, but we still need that closure to the end of the school year,” said Banks.

Teachers decorated their cars with signs and messages, reminding the students how much they are loved and missed.

The elementary school did a parade after the March announcement that schools would be closed for the rest of the year. The parents asked for one again, according to Allison Greene, the library media specialist.

“I have my bubble gun ready, and we are going to have a fun time,” said Banks.

As the teachers drove by, parents and students stood in their driveways with signs. A mother stood out with her two children to see their teachers drive by.

“It was awesome,” said Jayleen Reyes, a graduated fifth-grader from KSES.

“It made me feel good,” said Julius Reyes, an upcoming third-grader. “I haven’t seen my teachers in months.”

They both agreed that this showed that their teachers care despite the distance caused by the pandemic.

“It’s great that they did this,” said Ashley Reyes. “It’s sad that they had to do this, but I’m happy that they did. It is something for the kids to look forward to.”

The teachers put together a map to hit most of the neighborhoods that have Kilby Shores students. The parade passed by Hillcrest Baptist Church and Southside Baptist Church, giving those who were not on the route a safe place to wave and say goodbye.

At Florence Bowser Elementary School, also on Monday, fifth-grade students were encouraged to come and graduate one by one on the lawn of the school. Each of the five fifth-grade teachers had a one-hour time slot, and their students could come anytime during that time.

Principal Melodie Griffin called out each student’s name as they exited their vehicles. Parents and other family members were allowed to come up and take pictures, and many of the school’s teachers from all grade levels were on hand to cheer.

“Just to give them some finality is important, because this is their last elementary experience,” Griffin said. “It’s a great way to have some closure to the year but also to the elementary school experience.”

Fifth-grade teacher Shantel Moore said the experience was good for the students.

“I think it means that they know we care, that they’re supported through everything that we’ve been going through,” she said.

Fifth-grade teacher Margaret Shermer also said the experience was important for the students.

“Unlike the other grades they can’t come back and visit us — they can, but they’re not right down the hall,” she said. “They need to feel as if their accomplishments matter.”

Graduate Haleigh Sullivan said she enjoyed the experience after getting her certificate and taking photos with her family.

“I am really happy,” she said. “I get to see all my teachers, and I get to actually graduate.”