This year's last day of school was no ordinary finale.
Teachers from elementary schools across the Gloucester district piled into their decorated cars on the last day of classes to drive by their students' homes and bus stops to wish them a good — and well deserved — summer vacation.
"It was great to see them on the last day," said Shannon Killian, a first-grade teacher at Beeman Memorial Elementary School. "We have missed that social interaction piece, which is so huge, especially in the younger grades."
At O'Maley Innovation Middle School, teachers hosted a drive-by graduation ceremony for the eighth-graders who will enter the high school in the fall.
When the novel coronavirus hit stateside in early March, teachers and students were forced to work remotely for the remainder of the academic year.
"It was definitely a challenge adjusting to online remote learning. For first-graders, they are not super tech savvy to begin with," Killian explained. "It was a challenge to get them into the mode of working on a computer, but they actually amazed me by the end of it and they are actually pros by this point.
As Killian drove by Cherry Street in a "bee-themed" car — yellow and black striped balloons and bubbles flying in the air — two boys waved in excitement.
Tyson Irving, 7, and Jeremiah Voss, 9, stood just off the property at O'Maley as they waved and smiled at the teachers they have been talking with online via Zoom for the past four months.
Irving said his first-grade experience was "good," explaining that his favorite subject this year was math.
Voss was a bit too shy to talk to the Times reporter, but he ran eagerly out of his car when the teachers came rolling down the street — honking and hollering in celebration of the end of another school year.
Staff writer Taylor Ann Bradford can be reached at 978-675-2705 or firstname.lastname@example.org.