Helena Intermediate honors 5th graders with send-off parade

BY NATHAN HOWELL | Special to the Reporter 

HELENA – Cars lined around the building on May 16, at Helena Intermediatean unusual sight for the school on a Saturday. Inside, fifth graders with their families wait to drive by the school one last time.

After waiting in a backed up line wrapped around they school, the cars began to drive through what would normally be the car-rider line and were greeted by their favorite teachers, cheering loudly with signs to celebrate the fifth graders one last time before moving on to Helena Middle School.

Organized by fifth-grade teacher Ansley Weathers, it was a means of bringing the students together one last time to celebrate all of their accomplishments in what became a trying year due to COVID-19 ending the 2019-20 school year more than two months early.

“Because of the epidemic, the students left one day and we didn’t know if we would ever see them again,” Weathers said. “It was really closure for everyone. Getting to see each other was the one thing we didn’t have to give up.”

The students were given a Class of 2027 shirts during the event, which were provided by Mayor Mark Hall, while plenty of teachers and students shared their thoughts with signs in what was almost a last day of school party atmosphere.

“The teachers made signs, we played music and everyone in the car line was patient as each team of teachers talked to their students and gave them their T-shirt. It helped give us all closure as best we could,” HIS Principal Kathy Paiml said.

There was an incredible turnout, according to Weathers around 19 of her 23 students participated in the parade. She also said that a lot of school faculty came out to wish the students well.

“When you spend so much time with these students you really grow to love them,” Weathers said. “It was truly a great way to say goodbye.”

While it was difficult for the faculty and students at HIS to not get to close out the school year, it was one final chance to say goodbye, giving everyone that poured so much into the year a peace of mind.

“I hated the idea of not being able to see our students before they left for middle school. It was great to see their smiling faces again,” Paiml said.