A weekly tradition: McCordsville Elementary School staff brighten students’ days during pandemic

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Although schools were closed in March because of the COVID-19 pandemic, a McCordsville Elementary School weekly tradition continued despite students not physically attending school.

Each Wednesday, which has a delayed start time, some McCordsville Elementary staff made efforts to brighten students’ days in the car drop-off line at the school. Art teacher Terry Trowbridge brought a radio and sang and danced and instructional assistant Patricia Hunt wore a different wig each Wednesday.

“Miss Pat does Wig Wednesday in honor of one of our students who has cancer, and she (wore) wigs on Wednesday, and that continued. That grew and grew, and we saw how big it was that traffic (backed) up (in the drop-off line),” Principal Stephanie Miller said. “It’s a great way to honor our kids in all grade levels and see their smiling faces. We do it all year. (During the COVID-19 pandemic), it (was) amazing for them just to get to see their teachers and see how much we love them and miss them.

“You could tell how much it meant to them.”

Hunt came up with the idea to continue the Wig Wednesday tradition even when eLearning replaced in-school attendance.

“Once we had discontinued school, it was Miss Pat’s initiative to still offer this to the parents as a connectivity for the students,” Director of Community Relations Maria Bond said.

When Hunt was alerted one of her students had cancer, the student’s mother told Hunt that her daughter was sad because her hair would fall out.

“I told her, ‘Well, it’s OK. You can wear your hair. You can wear a wig. You don’t have to be shy,’ Hunt said. “When I wore a wig, the kids liked what they saw and asked if she would do it each Wednesday.”

Hunt said she missed car duty and decided to offer it for the parents and kids even while school was closed.

“I love it. I love the parents, and I love the kids,” Hunt said. “I said I would do it out in front of my house, and (Miller) said to do it in the school, so the three of us started coming and only two parents. I kept coming and kept coming, and then it caught on. I love doing car/rider duty, and I love working at the school.”

Trowbridge began car/rider duty a few years ago to wave parents through the line with batons, and he realized not everyone was a morning person.

“I kept thinking of John Cusack from (the movie) ‘Say Anything’ who has that boombox, so I thought, ‘What if I play some rock and jump around and get people excited about coming into school?’” Trowbridge said. “If you can get mentally into something, you are more likely to succeed. I think they enjoy it, me looking like a goofball.”

Trowbridge said parents are usually more excited about the boombox than the kids.

“It’s fun,” Trowbridge said. “It makes me laugh and smile, so I mean, if they think you are excited, I think they will be, too. And that’s my goal, to get people excited.”

A popular response

On May 1, McCordsville Elementary School conducted a two-hour parade through neighborhoods where students reside. Staff members threw candy, cheered and drove decorated vehicles.

When the car/rider drop-off line became popular on Wednesdays during the pandemic, dozens of cars lined up.

“It has to be over a hundred, if not more,” Principal Stephanie Miller said. “Almost 100 percent of the staff were there. My custodians were there, my lunch ladies were there (and) my instructional assistants.”




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