Friday, October 07, 2005

Homecoming Parade in Small Town, U.S.A.

Today was a special day at school. It was Homecoming Day at the high school across the street. Ordinarily a high school homecoming wouldn't affect an elementary school. Not here, though. Homecoming Day means that the high schoolers would have their homecoming parade and that it would come through our elementary school parking lot. Around 1:45 p.m. there was an announcement over the intercom that the parade was starting, and that all classes who wanted to see it should make their way to the front parking lot immediately. Such excitement! Children, teachers and parents lined the parking lot and waited while the local police stopped traffic, and the parade began. The floats were obviously a labor of love of the high school students. They wouldn't have won any awards in a commercial parade, but that didn't matter. The excitement and fun reflected on the faces of the students were better than any award. Most of the parade vehicles were student-driven cars and trucks that had been decorated with streamers, balloons, paint and, in one case, mud. Two police cars led the parade with their blue lights flashing. Another cruiser with flashing lights brought up the rear, with an assortment of floats, cars and trucks in between. High school kids were packed into the cars and trucks -- standing up through sun roofs - hanging out windows - packed in the truck beds -waving and cheering, honking horns, revving up the engines. Excitement reached new heights whenever brothers and sisters or friends would see each other. Little ones would proudly point out their older sibling, and the older ones would yell to the younger ones. The high schoolers threw candy to the eager elementary students. I watched as high school students caught the eyes of former teachers and called out and waved to them. I imagine most of them were remembering past years when they had been the younger students in this event. It was loud. It was not a standards-based learning activity. It was a tender moment - one you wouldn't see in city schools. I looked down the road at the traffic backing up behind the police barriers, and I wondered what non-locals were thinking of this display of small town pride and celebration. Traffic was stopped for a good 20 - 30 minutes as the parade moved from the high school, across the street to the elementary school, through the parking lot and then back across the street to the high school again. When the children got home from school this afternoon, they may not have been able to remember what they learned in class today, but I guarantee they'll remember the fun and excitement of that parade.

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