By Martie Thompson
On Monday, March 23, the day that St. Johns County teachers and students were set to return to school after Spring Break, a caravan of Cunningham Creek Elementary teachers and staff instead drove the streets in the school’s attendance zone in their vehicles to reconnect with students. This unusual but creative parade was the result of schools and most other public places being closed in an effort to contain the COVID 19 virus.
“Instead of greeting our students at the door to our classrooms, we greeted them at their driveways,” said Cunningham Creek third grade teacher Courtney Zitzewitz.
Zitzewitz said the idea for the event came from Facebook. Teachers had seen a post about such a caravan at another school, so they decided to implement one for their school. The Cunningham Creek caravan, which included police escort, began at 10:30 a.m. and about 30 cars, most with single drivers but some with a passenger, drove all around the Roberts Road area that is the school zone for Cunningham Creek. Zitzewitz said they finished the route, which had been posted so parents in each neighborhood knew approximately when to be out on their driveways with their children, at about 3 p.m.
“It was so good to see all the students’ faces,” Zitzewitz said. “We had posters and the kids did too. No one got out of their car; we just drove around and honked and waved and had fun.”
Zitzewitz said she saw 16 out of 18 of her students and other teachers reported similar percentages. Some alumni of the elementary school, now in high school or college, even went outside to participate while wearing their current school’s shirts.
“This was a great way to reconnect with our students,” Zitzewitz said. “We tried to make them feel special, but it also helped us.”
The St. Johns County School District implemented distance learning the following week.
Photo courtesy Cunningham Creek Cardinal families