To congratulate and honor their students at the end of what was been a most unusual school year due to closures caused by COVID-19, instructors and other staff members from Kennedy Elementary paraded through Pierre on Wednesday evening.

The parade of vehicles wound, zig-zagged, curlicued and criss-crossed around the school’s student coverage area. Mapped out in advance, the 17-mile route traveled in front of as many students’ houses as possible — nearly all of them.

“The amazing staff at Kennedy Elementary has been planning the staff parade since we first learned we would not return to school this year. We have missed our students and families terribly,” main parade coordinator Jennifer Cliff said. “We appreciate the coverage to honor the hard work of our students and their families during these unprecedented times.”

The parade starting point was in the front parking lot of Kennedy Elementary School in Brookstone Loop at 6:45 p.m. The parade began zig-zagging throughout Pierre at 7 p.m.

“I was estimating about 35 cars in the parade this evening, but that is just a guess on my part, based on the number of staff at Kennedy,” Cliff said. “We are hoping to have the route completed within an hour because we have ‘littles’ at our school, and want to honor that bedtime routine. However, Kennedy’s boundary area includes north Pierre and south Pierre, so the area we will be covering this evening is quite large.”

Staff members had signs on their vehicles, commending the efforts of the students and congratulating them on finishing the year well, despite not having face-to-face classes.

“Signs also included reminders of what we hold dear at Kennedy and remind our students every day: They are so very loved. They matter. They belong here. Wishes for a safe and happy summer will also be included,” Cliff added.

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