Thunder Bay

'We miss you!' Elementary school in Thunder Bay reaches out to students with drive-by parade

Teachers and staff at Algonquin Avenue Public School in Thunder Bay sent out a heartfelt message to their students and families Thursday afternoon by organizing a drive-by parade and letting them know how much they miss being in the classroom together.

'We thought the best way to reach out to our kids is to drive by, give them a wave,' says principal

Heather Koiranen is a teacher at Algonquin Avenue Public School in Thunder Bay, Ont. She decorated her car with a teddy bear and a large sign saying "We Miss You". She and about 30 other staff members took part in a drive-by parade to raise the spirits of children in the neighbourhood. (Cathy Alex/CBC)

Handpainted signs, reading "Miss you!," adorned the side of one of about 30 vehicles gathered in the parking lot at Algonquin Avenue Public School in Thunder Bay on Thursday afternoon.

Appropriately, a super-sized teddy bear was holding the message, which came straight from the hearts of the teachers and staff at the elementary school in the northwestern Ontario city. Like all other schools in Ontario, Algonquin has been closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

The group delivered that message to their students, and their families with a drive-by parade through the neighbourhoods served by the school.

"We miss them a lot, and I think about them everyday," said native language teacher Corine Bannon, from inside her white truck, festooned with balloons and a colourful sign stating "Brighter Days Ahead."

The event was organized by principal Kali Bernst, who sent out an email simply suggesting "this is where we're going to meet and decorate your cars and be as silly and as crazy as you can and make our kids happy."

Corine Bannon is a teacher at Algonquin Avenue Public School in Thunder Bay. She says she thinks about her students everyday. (Cathy Alex/CBC)

She said her staff wanted some way to reach out and show the kids that even though they can't be together in the classroom right now, they're still connected to each other.

"Right now, we're in a really tricky time and we just thought the best way to reach out to our kids is to be able to drive by, and give them a wave " she said.

Kali Bernst is the principal of Algonquin Avenue Public School in Thunder Bay, Ontario. She says the goal of the drive-by parade on Thursday was just to 'make the kids happy'. (Catherine Alex/CBC)

Bernst also sent out an email to parents, letting them know about the parade and to make sure their kids were at their windows, or out on their lawns so they could have a front-row seat.

"We've got such great relationships at our school and with our families and we really wanted to make sure they knew we were thinking of them."

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