School to celebrate end of year at park

    The city of Steelville has approved a request for the Steelville School District to
utilize the Steelville City Park for a drive-through celebration marking the end of the school year. The event will be held from 6:30 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, May 13. A special Senior Celebration for the Class of 2020 will begin at 8 p.m.

    Steelville Schools Superintendent Mike Whittaker sent a letter to the council for consideration at their Monday, May 4 meeting. In it, he noted, “As you know, the pandemic has caused a great amount of change in how we deliver instruction to our students. I believe it is important for our students and staff to have some closure as we end the school year. I believe that the school district of any small community is the heartbeat of that community. That is certainly the case in Steelville.”
    The approved plan is for school staff to line the circle drive of the park in their cars, and to stand outside their vehicles as students and parents drive by. There will be areas where the schools will recognize specific groups like seniors, athletes, staff, etc. One example Whittaker provided was the school district’s plans to recognize this year’s senior class by displaying banners for the top 10 students, valedictorian, and salutatorian. Everyone will still need to follow social distancing guidelines.
    To celebrate the Class of 2020, school staff is requesting all seniors and their parents/guardians arrive at the park at 8 p.m. They will enter the Steelville Community Park and go to a designated parking area. At 8:20 p.m., the lights on the track and fields will be turned on. At that time, seniors and their parents will be led around the park in their vehicles by law enforcement officials. After circling the park, everyone is invited to drive through town in an unofficial parade.
    Whittaker noted he anticipates that many families will want to participate. At the council meeting, Police Chief Mike Sherman said he had talked with Whittaker about the event at the park. “I advised him I would come down and make sure traffic keeps flowing,” Sherman said. He also noted he had approved the senior parade through town with a police escort, as long as the council agreed.
Mayor Michael Keen was in favor of the event as a whole. “They’ve all been staying home, we need to do something nice for them,” he said. Other council members agreed it was a good way to acknowledge the end of this unprecedented school year.
    In his letter, the superintendent pointed out that he had consulted Honor Evans, Crawford County Health Department director, about this plan, noting that she supported it, as long as social distancing guidelines are followed. Whittaker also shared the request with the Crawford County Commission.
    Whittaker also plans to invite area business to participate by creating their own messages to students via banners that will be placed in the park for this event.

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