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School spirit never been higher in Ayer-Shirley

District staff drive through towns with students and parents showing support

A car driven by a staff member of the Ayer-Shirley Regional School District participating in the “We Are Together” parade.
A car driven by a staff member of the Ayer-Shirley Regional School District participating in the “We Are Together” parade.

AYER – School doors may still be closed, but that didn’t stop students and staff of the Ayer-Shirley Regional School District from showing mutual feelings of missing each other.

The district put on “We Are Together,” a district-wide parade held on Wednesday, April 22. The parade involved local police and fire vehicles escorting cars driven by district staff and decorated with signs expressing how much the teachers missed their students.

The parade drove through neighborhoods in Ayer while a second adjoining parade took place through Shirley neighborhoods, both running from 1 to 2:30 p.m.

Both parades also drove through the parking lot of the Nashoba Valley Medical Center to cheer on the medical staff.

Fred Deppe, principal of the Page Hilltop Elementary School, said that the inspiration for the parades came from Superintendent Dr. Mary Malone as a means to life spirits while school district has been closed for over a month. The morale boost was much needed, as the Baker-Polito Administration announced on April 21 that schools statewide would be closed until the end of the school year.

“For the teachers & staff, it was so very wonderful to see the faces of all the students who we so dearly miss,” Deppe said on Tuesday. “This included current and former students. We were unified in our goal of letting the students know how much we miss and care for them. I have every confidence that this message got through clearly. Many staff also shared how very special they felt when they saw all of the message signs that students & families were holding up, stating how much they also missed and cared for the teachers. This was a most positive home-school connection being shared.”

District students showed up with their own signs of support missing the hallways and classrooms of district schools. One of them is Charlie McGloughlin, a student at Page Hilltop sporting a sign saying “Thank you Page Hilltop staff.”

“I miss being with my friends and my teachers,” he added.

Olivia Oestreicher, a junior at the Ayer-Shirley Regional High School, said she misses school “so much,” especially its music and robotics programs, both of which she participated in. Though the thing she’s missing the most is the experience of saying goodbye.

“Most of my friends are seniors so it’s sad I won’t really be able to give them proper goodbyes,” she explained.