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#3Heroes: Royalview Elementary School teachers hold parade to stay connected with students in Willowick

One teacher rode through the streets of Willowick with a homemade sign reading ‘you are smart, you are loved, you are missed.’

WILLOWICK, Ohio — Students across the country are experiencing separation anxiety from not only schools, but from their teachers as well.

The staff of Royalview Elementary School in Willowick realized that, contrary to popular belief, many kids are missing their friends, the classroom, as well as the teachers that come as a packaged deal when it comes to school. That’s when they got to brainstorming.

The teachers leaped into action and organized a ‘parade’ through the streets of Willowick, driving, honking and waving at students holding signs and cheering.

Some students used their creativity to craft signs, sidewalk art, and even fun outfits.

Teachers went up and down all of the streets in Willowick, (that’s right, all of them), smiling and waving to the students they haven’t seen in several weeks.

“It actually brought tears to my eyes that our teachers are so caring and the kids were so excited to see them," Willowick resident Dolores Malbone said. "It made their day. They did not miss a street in Willowick."

‘Doing this for our students, family, and community was important to us. We miss our students so much! It’s hard for everyone to be isolated and away from their friends and community,’ said Royalview kindergarten teacher Laurie Vosicky, ‘We just wanted to show everyone that we miss them and are thinking of them.’

First grade teacher Courtney Zappola, who organized the parade, received nothing but rave reviews from coworkers and parade-watchers, including one of her own students.

"I love her. It makes me feel really good that she helped put together the parade today,’ said first grader Harper Paulic, ‘I miss her very much and it was really good to see her today."

As emotionally powerful as the day was for students and residents watching the parade, some Royalview staff, including second grade teacher Shannen Davis, spent much of the day attempting (and failing) at holding back tears. "I cried the whole parade route because I could feel the whole community’s love! 

"This was one of the best days of my teaching career! To see all my past and present students with smiles all over their faces just makes everything right in the world again,’ said Davis, ‘We spend so much time building relationships with our kids & families each school year & today is exactly why we live our jobs.’

Schools across the country are unsure whether they will return to the classroom this school year, but clearly, the spirit of this school cannot be defeated.

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