Caravan of cars show students love during COVID-19 closures
📸 Helen Boyle photos for The Citizen Chronicle
SOUTHBRIDGE — With schools closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, scores of educators hit the road for a rolling rally throughout town to show their Pioneer Pride.
The Southbridge Public Schools Staff Parade kicked off around 2 p.m. on Tuesday with a line of cars as far as could be seen snaking through numerous neighborhoods, honking horns and waving at students and their families who had come out of their homes while adhering to social distancing protocols. Many of the more than 80 vehicles in the parade were decorated with balloons while students and parents held homemade signs showing their appreciation for teachers who continue to teach remotely during the school closures.
Kelly Landine, an English teacher at Southbridge High School, was the driving force behind the caravan of vehicles. She said the event was spawned by a desire for “the kids to know how much we all care about them and miss them.”
She added: “We needed to see them, too.”
Sue Pontbriand, a second grade teacher at Charlton Street School, said she became emotional during the parade.
“Today’s parade was absolutely amazing,” exclaimed Pontbriand, who has taught at the elementary school for ten years. “I miss my students and coworkers, and it was really emotional seeing so many people that I care so much about.”
Pontbriand agreed, highlighting a sense of pride: “Love that we were able to do this for our kids!”
Tracy Pollone, a bus driver who organized the parade route along with the Southbridge Police Department, reaffirmed the need for both students and teachers to share in the moment and let one another know how they feel.
“It was important for the kids to see the teachers are still thinking about them,” she said. “They’re not forgotten.”
Landine applauded her many colleagues that took part, noting it is reflective of their dedication to their professions and their students.
“I am lucky to work with the most caring, dedicated educators. Teachers in Southbridge really are amazing,” she said. “The turn out was epic. Many teachers were crying and choked up; that says everything about the staff of the [Southbridge Public Schools].”
For Landine, one young student’s homemade sign was the one “that got me” read: “Teachers are superheroes.” Other signs spotted along the route thanked specific educators as well as teachers at large with messages like “We miss you,” and “Thank you all!”