COVENTRY — Dressed in their best Christmas sweaters, their cars decked out it festive lights and glittering garland, teachers from Coventry High School hit the streets Tuesday afternoon to deliver a bit of holiday cheer to the members of the class of 2021.
The holly-jolly celebration, which saw some 75 high school staff members working together to distribute signs and stuffed stockings to all 332 seniors, was “the highlight of the school year,” said Assistant Principal Tim Chace.
“Since March, we haven’t consistently had kids in the building,” Chace said Wednesday. “This was an opportunity to do something nice, and to give back to the kids and show them that we love them. And the reality is that we really do love our kids.”
The event was a community effort, organized to bring a little cheer to Coventry’s senior class during an otherwise bleak year.
Teachers headed out after school Tuesday, driving in cars with messages like “we love our seniors” and “Oaker elf delivery” written across the windows. Holiday tunes played loud from speakers.
Teachers were enthusiastic about making the deliveries, Chace said, adding that every senior was spoken for within just minutes of seeking teachers interested in participating.
The response, added Chace, who rode with other school administrators in a decorated Career and Tech bus, “was amazing.”
“This school is such a community-based school,” he said. “I think that oftentimes large high schools don’t have the feel that this school has.”
A large percentage of the high school’s teachers live right in town, Chace pointed out, and many are alumni of Coventry High School.
“That turns a very large, comprehensive high school into, essentially, a community school,” he said. “Everybody knows everybody.”
The stockings were compiled by a group of parents, led by Christine Steinkamp and Staci Landry, who in the face of the coronavirus pandemic have come together to celebrate the class of 2021. Each one was stuffed with items like lip balm, air fresheners, candy and CHS keychains.
A nearly $900 donation from the Olde Theater Diner, collected through a recent fundraiser at the Coventry restaurant, helped pay for the stockings and signs; parent donations ensured the stockings were filled.
And the seniors seemed to love receiving the special delivery, Chace said.
Photos shared to Facebook show students smiling outside their homes alongside teachers and school administrators in Santa hats and elf costumes, holding onto “proud of our CHS senior” signs.
“It’s probably been pretty lonely since March, not being able to connect the way that everybody’s accustomed to,” Chace said of the students who were paid visits Tuesday.
Even this year, when many high schoolers have been participating in a hybrid model of learning that has included two days per week of in-person learning, school looks nothing like it used to.
“As a senior, you have your last game, last homecoming, last winter ball,” Chace added. “They’ve really missed out on a lot, and they’re our leaders in the student population.”
Chace lauded the seniors for their flexibility, their positivity, and for “going with the flow” this year.
“Whatever we can do to give them some memories and give them something to remember and show them that we love them, we want to do that,” he said.