Cheers and honks could be heard all over Fernie on April 9 as a convoy of painted vehicles decorated with green, white, and black streamers drove through town. The parade was led by teachers and staff from Ecole Isabella Dicken Elementary School, who organized a celebratory drive thru to bring smiles to their students’ faces.
The group of teachers met at the parking lot in front of Isabella Dicken at 3 p.m. where over 20 cars and several bikes organized themselves into a line. The participating vehicles had everything from balloons, to construction paper hearts, to motivational quotes taped to their sides.
Having shared the parade route with the families of their students, the teachers encouraged the youngsters to witness the parade from somewhere along the route, while continuing to practice good social distancing.
The parade of vehicles was lead and anchored by the Fernie Fire Department and the route went from Castle Mountain to Mountain View, West Fernie to the Annex, and Alpine Trails to Ghostrider, brightening the day of each local who gathered along the street. With so many smiling faces hanging out of their windows, waving pompoms and cheering, the event surely trickled a sense of hope and happiness throughout the entire community of Fernie.
“This was an idea from two of our teachers, Mrs. Lennox and Mrs. Temrick,” said Nicole Neufeld, principal of the school. “We decided to put it on because, to begin with, we miss our students very much. Because our school goal is all about belonging, we wanted our students to know that we are still thinking about them. We wanted to raise everybody’s spirits.”
Also keeping school spirit alive is the Panther Roar project, which encourages students to show their school pride by hanging motivational posters in their home windows and sharing photos on social media.
Kicking off the creative assignment, Neufeld posted a sign in the school’s front window that read, “Shout out to our students who are staying home so we can flatten the curve! We miss you!”
In a subsequent Facebook post, the teachers asked their students to share their roar by designing and placing shout outs in their windows too. Posters and window dressings of their school mascot, a panther, now decorate homes all over town.
Thanks to the spirited staff and students of Ecole Isabella Dicken Elementary School, all of Fernie was reminded that self isolation does not put a hold on love, connection, and fun.