Zia teachers hold parade
Last updated 4/4/2020 at 1:49pm
CLOVIS - With stay-at-home orders in place, gatherings barely large enough to field a basketball team - let alone a classroom - are memories that seem more distant than just a few weeks.
The schools are closed, many families are simply staying home and the streets are largely silent.
Thursday provided a small exception, and maybe a bit of normalcy, as teachers and staff from Clovis' Zia Elementary paraded up and down the streets of the children they teach.
Principal Shalei Bennett said the idea came about with a few of her teacher leaders asking if such an event would be possible as a reminder the teachers are still around despite the inability to gather in a classroom. Her reaction was a simple, "Why not?"
Regina Griego, a second-grade teacher at Zia, took a day to map out the area with her husband Gerald. Megan Dybezik, also a second-grade teacher, created a flyer that was distributed online to tell parents the parade was happening and approximations for when the caravan would reach their neighborhood. Various other staffers sent out real-time parade updates online.
The parade stretched four hours through Zia's geographic zone, basically a rectangle with Prince Street, Llano Estacado Boulevard, Humphrey Road and 21st Street as the borders and a few outlying blocks south of 21st Street thrown into the mix.
"Some of the kids got a double dose because we had to backtrack on some streets, but most of it went pretty smoothly," Bennett said. "We just didn't want to miss anybody."
The parade formed in the parking lot of nearby Central Baptist Church and started at 1:30 p.m. The small amount of Zia's approximate 450 students who live outside the district were invited to come see the parade begin at the school's parking lot.
After that point, the caravan went up and down the neighborhoods. Teachers honked and waved from their own vehicles, some elaborately decorated with balloons and signs, others with window chalk.
The honking could be heard from blocks away as the Roberts family waited from their front driveway. Stephen Roberts, 7, is a student of Griego's and misses many parts of school, including Friday cooking.
"I have to do things online," Stephen said while keeping at a recommended physical distance, "and I don't get to see friends, and I get into arguments with my sister."
While they waited for the parade, the family used sidewalk chalk to decorate their driveway with messages for Griego, the blue-and-yellow Zia Thunderbird and chalk outlines of each family member. Stephen, possibly unaware of old connotations associated with chalk outlines, turned them into gingerbread people.
Bennett, who has been with the district for 15 years and has spent all seven of her Zia years as principal, wasn't surprised to see most of her staff participated.
"All Clovis school teachers love their kids, and I work with one of the best staffs," said Bennett, who was once a Zia student herself. "I think they needed to go see the kids as much as the kids needed to see them."