Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Hurley teachers, students moved by drive-up event


[email protected]

Hurley - Teachers said it was like a parade in describing the cars full of approximately 250 elementary students and parents who drove by Hurley K-12 School on Thursday afternoon to pick up personal items there since the school closed for the coronavirus pandemic in March.

Each teacher from pre-kindergarten through grade five was stationed on the walkway in front of the school with signs to greet the students and hand out materials, said Steve Lombardo, the elementary school principal. The teaching staff greeted the students and parents as they returned the materials that were left in the classrooms.

"The minute I walked out here and saw all the tables I immediately had a huge lump in my throat," said Nicole Giancola, a pre-kindergarten teacher. "I know as soon as I see the kids I'm going to start crying. I just miss them so much. This is pretty special that we are able to do this and we are blessed with beautiful sunshine too which is nice."

The teachers remained behind the tables that lined the drop off lane as cars were lined up the length of the school drive and a good portion of Range View Drive. The kids waved at their teachers as the parents went to the tables to drop off assignments and to pick up materials.

"They want to have the kids just stay in the car and the parents come out quick just to grab the supplies," said Katy Brownell, pre-kindergarten teacher.

There were mats, pencil and crayon boxes, projects from throughout the school year, and some birthday goodies for some of the kids who had birthdays coming up or had them previously since the closure, she said. There were also packets for the parents to work on with the kids at home.

"We send out an email every Monday that gives some tasks and assignments for the week," Brownell said. "My partner and I do one video a week of us reading a story along with information on the tasks or assignments for the week and just to say hi and tell them that we miss them."

Savannah Huotari, who drove up with her son, Owen Pelkola, a 5-year-old kindergartner, was the first car in line when the event started at 5 p.m. She said it has been a learning experience this past month in helping the teachers work with her son.

"It has been a challenge at home," Huotari said.

Kathy Czarnecki, first grade teacher, handed out extra clothes, supplies and "leprechaun traps" that were completed just before the school closed. She said the kids and parents have adjusted to virtual learning using Google Classroom very well but that it was wonderful to see the kids in person.

"I hope they all come today," Czarnecki said. "It would be wonderful to see them all again."

Fellow first-grade teacher Lindsay Stafford, said it has been great to see the kids using the virtual meeting app Zoom but that seeing them in person Thursday after more than a month apart was a powerful experience.

"It's going to be pretty emotional," Stafford said.

Kevin Genisot, Hurley K-12 School administrator, said the planning and the good weather made for a wonderful day. The social distancing of the teachers and the kids staying in the vehicles made it all very safe and fun.

"This was a chance for the kids to see their teachers one last time before school is out, while getting all their stuff and doing it in the safest manner that we can," Genisot said. "It's a great turnout and it's a great day."