Inspiring younger students: Caravans replace traditional school visits for Butler County graduates

Credit: Journal News


Credit: Journal News

Coronavirus stopped area schools’ tradition of high school graduates walking through their old elementary schools last spring, but this year schools are trying safer “grad caravans” of cars rolling in front of cheering younger students.

One of the latest was at Fairfield North Elementary last week that saw brightly decorated cars of graduating Fairfield High School seniors driving slowly in front of the school with drivers in commencement cap and gowns behind the wheel.

It’s the latest of dozens of twists forced on area schools as the first full year of classes during a global pandemic comes to an end this week and next for most area schools.

And it works, said Fairfield Elementary Principal Denise Hayes.

The caravan of grads maintains the annual tradition of parading graduating seniors in front of the younger students as an inspirational ceremony and a sweet send off.

“Because of Covid 19 we’ve had to make so many changes this school year and we wanted to honor this tradition,” said Hayes.

Other districts, including Lakota Schools, had graduating seniors from its two high schools simply walk in a parade outside their old elementary schools to hundreds of cheering students, many flashing hand-made signs of congratulations and encouragement.

“We are so excited to be having the drive-by celebration and we want to make sure we continue to honor our seniors. Because of Covid 19 we can not have them in the building so we thought having the drive-by celebration would be another great way to honor them,” said Hayes.

Proud Fairfield school parent Jennifer Hormann remembers when her son Logan was just a lad attending Fairfield North Elementary.

Minutes before the seniors and their car caravan was scheduled to roll on through, Hormann waited with other family members in the school’s Fairfield Twp parking lot to cheer on her son’s return to his elementary alma mater.

“I think it (caravan) is very inventive and I’m happy to finally have some normalcy,” she said.

Her son, Hormann, said “will be in the back of a truck with a whole bunch of other (Fairfield High School) show choir kids hooting and hollering.”

The inspirational aspect of this first-of-its-kind caravan ceremony is important, she said, for the grade school students.

“It’s great for them to see what the district does for them and to support the older kids. And the older kids like to support the younger kids. With everything that has been happening with Covid, I know that hasn’t been happening a lot so it’s really good for them to see what their potential is with Fairfield Schools.”

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