The sun was shining and the temperature was hot on Wednesday, May 31, but Willow School kindergarteners were up for a parade as they drove around the building in their cardboard box cars to the cheers of parents, friends and family.
District 153 Superintendent Scott McAlister was on hand, tending the long tables piled with items lost during the year. He said he was unsure when the box car parade tradition started.
Willow Principal Melissa Lawson also was stumped by the question.
“I’ve been here 23 years and it’s been here as long as I have,” she said. “We missed a couple years for COVID, which was kind of sad. We knew it was something that’s really important because we have so many staff that have had students who had box cars and they’ll talk about it, like, ‘We still have it in the attic. My child still talks about it.’ So, we know it’s one of the highlights of kindergarten.”
Students in the parade this year supported that assessment, emerging from the building with big smiles and waves, looking for their family among the crowd on the lawn.
One parent, Sandy Sanders, said her son, Trey, participated as a member of Elizabeth Dedo’s class. She was delighted by the parade.
“I think it’s fabulous. It took a lot of work. Parents volunteered. His dad came in. They had an assembly line,” she said. “It exceeded my expectations. Willow has such great school spirit. He had such a great kindergarten year.”
Justin Opiola was one of the parents who helped with box car construction.
“Yesterday I was able to help put some of them together in the classroom, so that was an awesome experience,” he said. The cars are very detailed. We had fun with that. If you talk to some of the parents that have older kids, they missed out on this during COVID. It’s good to have this back.”