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by Shane Standlick on June 26, 2020

Celebrating the end of the school year two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to participate in a teacher parade through the town of Ashland. When I say participate, I mean drive the car and honk the horn so Megan could yell and wave out the window to the many students and parents who lined the streets of Ashland. In a typical year, teachers wave from the bus loop to the students as they drive away for the last time that school year but, as we all know, this year has been a “little” different.

There was excitement in the air as the cars gathered in the parking lot, decorated with window paint, streamers, posters and balloons. I received the list of directions we would be taking along the way, glanced at it and did a double-take. 92 DIFFERENT TURNS, STREETS AND DIRECTIONS! What was this going to be like?

We pulled out of the school and onto the first street. Students and parents received directions earlier in the week about when we could be expected and were lined up and waiting for us. As the parade of cars progressed down the street, teachers hung out of the car windows yelling the names of their students and cheering for them as we entered summer. Car horns, cheering, and laughter were in the air. It was great!

About 30 minutes later, we took it to the next level! We stopped in the parking lot at one of the schools in Ashland and the next thing we knew, a firetruck was pulling to the front of the parade to lead us through Ashland! As the parade continued, I noticed more and more community members, both young and old, looking out of their windows smiling at us and waiving.  Street after street, smile after smile, the community was getting involved in what was going on. It turned into a parade not only for the students, but for the community as well. A parade of teachers and family members driving through the town of Ashland for three hours spurred pure joy in the hearts of everyone. It made me smile!

I turned to Megan and said, “We should do this every week.” Look how simple the act of driving around, smiling at and waiving to everyone, brought joy to so many. What would our communities look like if, every time we passed someone, we smiled at them? I think now more than ever, we need more smiles.

My challenge to you is to smile. Smile at that person you drive past. Smile while you physically distance. :-) Just smile and see how contagious it is.

Shane Standlick

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