Orono teachers greet students from afar with a parade from their cars

Click here for the latest coronavirus news, which the BDN has made free for the public. You can support this mission by purchasing a digital subscription.

ORONO, Maine — An unusually warm and sunny afternoon on Thursday offered the perfect chance for Orono’s teachers to make a special visit with their students — without ever having to leave their cars. 

Like many schools around Maine, Orono’s Asa Adams Elementary has shifted all of its classes online to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. This new change has been tough on students and teachers alike, who are used to spending entire days in the classroom with each other.  

Students and their families wave as the teacher parade passed through Pine Street in Orono. (Nina Mahaleris | The Penobscot Times)

[Our COVID-19 tracker contains the most recent information on Maine cases by county]

So, the school came up with a plan. Instead of having a staff meeting on Thursday afternoon, the staff from Asa Adams decorated the outsides of their cars with balloons, signs and stuffed animals, and toured the town, honking and waving as they passed students.  

Kids stood out along sidewalks or sat at the ends of their driveways to watch as the parade made its way through their neighborhoods. One family on Forest Avenue hung a sign in the front yard for the passing caravan and played “It’s the End of the World as We Know It,” from inside their house — which was overshadowed by honking horns and distant greetings. 

“I think it did as much good for the teachers as it did for everybody,” Principal Darren Akerman said after the two-hour parade. “I think we all needed it in some ways.” 

Asa Adams students and their families stood on the Pine Street sidewalk as their teachers drove by waving and honking their horns. (Nina Mahaleris | The Penobscot Times)

Rachel Nichols, who teaches special education at the elementary school, brought her two kids to watch the parade as it passed through Pine Street. “It was really awesome,” she said, especially for her 6-year-old daughter Audrey, who has missed seeing her teachers in the classroom. 

[Read our full coronavirus coverage here]

While they video chat with her once a week to check in, it’s not the same, Nichols said. “She’s really been missing her teachers.” 

As the parade passed from one neigborhood to the next before concluding its tour on College Avenue, it seemed to leave a lasting impression — a moment of happiness amid chaos for the students who watched from a distance. 

And with it, a simple reminder that they may be apart, but they’re never alone.

Get the Rest of the Story

Thank you for reading your 4 free articles this month. To continue reading, and support local, rural journalism, please subscribe.