CORONAVIRUS: STRONGER TOGETHER

Provo Teacher’s Presence Brings Deeper Purpose To Parade

Apr 22, 2020, 10:57 PM | Updated: Jul 29, 2022, 11:16 pm

PROVO, Utah — Everyone would have understood if she wasn’t able to make it, but one teacher in Utah County was determined to send an important message to her students when her school planned a parade.

Just after lunchtime Wednesday, cars began to line up in the parking lot of Rock Canyon Elementary School.

Balloons and signs were everywhere.

“We miss you bunches,” read the message on one windshield.

“There are 101 reasons why we miss you!” said the side of an SUV.

It was the unlikeliest of ‘faculty meetings’ — a socially-distanced parade in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic to let students know they were loved.

“We miss them terribly,” said principal Seth Hansen. “We felt like this would be a good way to reach out to our kids and stay connected with them.”

Hansen said 27 teachers and administrators took part in the parade.

The route curved through neighborhoods within the school’s boundaries.

Though numerous students came out to their curbs and lawns long in advance, perhaps nobody had been anticipating the parade more than 6th Grade teacher Wendi Pancake.

“I haven’t been out of the house in a long time, and it’s really nice to get out of the house,” Pancake said.

Pancake was diagnosed with breast cancer in January, and started chemotherapy on Mar. 12.

She said she was glad the school picked a date when she was feeling well.

“I wish circumstances were different, but this is what we have to deal with,” Pancake said. “I guess I just want people to know I’m determined, that I’m here for their kids.”

Several of Pancake’s students and former students were there to wish her well.

“It was really good to see her again,” said current student Kate Colton. “She really cares about her kids in her class.”

Parent Collin Hayward was unaware of Pancake’s cancer battle, and said he was moved by the fact she participated in the parade.

“She is so awesome,” Hayward said.

Hansen said Pancake is well-liked, and has high expectations for all of her students.

“It’s really meaningful, I think, for her, but as well for all of her students and all of us to know that she’s still going to be here with us,” Hansen said. “She’s great — just a phenomenal teacher, just love having her as part of our faculty.”

In addition to teachers, police joined the parade, as well as BYU mascot Cosmo.

Librarian Letty Meibos said she was also excited to see the kids, some of whom she still reads stories to virtually via the internet.

“I don’t get to see them personally looking back at me, but I am keeping up stories that we were already in process of before the break,” Meibos said. “I’m really happy to see the kids!”

After the parade, Pancake said she enjoyed sharing a moment of connection with students.

“It was so nice to see the kids!” Pancake said. “I miss them so, so much!”

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Provo Teacher’s Presence Brings Deeper Purpose To Parade