NISKAYUNA — Isabella Cancelliere made sure she was noticed on Saturday.
She also made sure her message was noticed.
The 9-year-old third-grader at St. Kateri Tekakwitha School stood inside her family’s Honda “Pilot” sports utility vehicle and held a sign through the open sunroof. “We miss you!” was Isabella’s greeting to her teachers.
The feeling was mutual. About 25 St. Kateri teachers and staffers stood in the school parking lot for the school’s second “reverse parade” of the spring. Instead of driving through town streets, honking horns and waving, the Kateri crew dressed in navy blue “SKS Strong” t-shirts and colorful faces masks. They brought bubbles, balloons and signs for the procession of young friends.
Students and their families entered the back of the parking lot through Ray Street, cruised slowly through the lot — pausing for extended greetings — and then exited onto Union Street.
“This is a chance for us to see our students safely and to make sure that they know we care about them,” said school Principal Tosha Grimmer. “They also enjoy seeing us in person.
“We’ve been doing some online instruction,” Grimmer added, “but it’s not the same.”
School officials said St. Kateri teachers have been challenged by the lack of technology and computers in some student homes. Teachers have adopted “old school” procedures, preparing learning packets — old-fashioned paper copies — for each student. Teachers also have been giving one-on-one instruction to students who otherwise would be unable to receive their lessons.
St. Kateri’s enrollment is 190 students in nursery, pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and through the fifth grade.
Rev. Robert Longobuoco, pastor of St. Kateri Tekakwitha parish, said teachers need their students.
“They need to see them,” said Longobuoco, who was also part of the reception line. “It means as much to them as it does to the kids. Our kids love our teachers, so they need to know they’re still connected. They need to see a face in real time, like they’re used to, like we’ve always provided.”
Teachers were all in for the parade.
“I miss my kids,” said Denise O’Connor of Johnsonville, who teaches third grade. “I’m out here to show them support and that we can all get through this together.”
Ellen Renzi of Schenectady, a pre-kindergarten teacher, held a sign that included names of her students.
“I’ve been a teacher here for 30 years,” she said. “I love my school. I’m so used to being with kids every single day.”
Other teachers said the parade gave them the chance to see their students — and kids’ parents — in person. Parents said they appreciated the chance to get out of the house and give their children a fun activity.
Jolan Gagnon of Niskayuna brought kids Declan, 7, and Mabel, 5, to the mobile party.
“It gives them something to look forward to,” Gagnon said. “Otherwise, they don’t see their teachers and they miss their teachers. I think this is fantastic.”
Forty-eight families drove through the parking lot. Dan Cancelliere, Isabella’s father, thinks another parade will be appropriate.
“Hopefully they will do it one more time, for graduation,” he said.
Contact staff writer Jeff Wilkin at 518-641-8400 or at [email protected]