November 20, 2020 -- The principal at Colerain Elementary School has 170 reasons to be thankful this Thanksgiving season. Actually, Candace Nespeca has more reasons if you count all the teachers, teachers’ aides, and staff. “Fifty percent of the students here at Colerain have orthopedic or health impairments,” said Nespeca. “The grace these students and families have shown over the last few months is immeasurable.”
To show their appreciation, Nespeca and her staff held an appreciation drive-thru. With music playing and inflatable turkeys on the front lawn, the teachers and staff, all wearing masks and maintaining six feet of distance, danced and cheered as families stopped by.
“Hello, Phoenyx,” they shouted in unison as the kindergartener’s grandmother pulled up with the back window rolled down. Smiling from ear to ear, the five-year-old waved enthusiastically at the teachers and staff, one of whom was dressed up in a turkey costume. “He misses school so much,” said Teneshela Jones, the five-year old’s grandma. “Luckily, I’m retired so that I can stay home with him, but he misses the interaction.”
Every student was given a gift bag and a “smencil,” also known as a scented pencil. The driver was offered either a free cup of hot chocolate or green tea. Rebecca Moore’s son Anderson, who was strapped into a wheelchair in the back of his mom’s van, was so happy to be back on school grounds, even if it was just for a few minutes. “This is great. I’m so happy we stopped by,” said Rebecca Moore.
Principal Nespeca knows some families will not be able to make it to the appreciation drive-thru. “Some of our families don’t have wheelchair accessible vehicles,” said Nespeca. “That’s why we will go to them if they can’t get to us.”
A group of staff and volunteers have agreed to a non-contact drop off over the next few days so that every Colerain student gets a gift bag and knows how much they are missed and supported.