On Friday, with the sun high in the late-spring sky, teachers and staff from Santa Rosa Academic Academy surrounded the school’s parking lot, decorated with balloons, signs and streamers as students and their families filed through the lot in a student-appreciation parade. The nearly spontaneous event brought the Roadrunner family together for a moment of mutual appreciation and expression of love and care.

“This was just to get the families together,” SRAA teacher and event organizer Sarah Holland said. “We were feeling a lull — I was feeling a lull for sure, in the momentum, and the burnout of families having to do this.”

Since March 13, the students and teachers practiced distance learning, and the event brought the SRAA community — students, parents and teachers — together for a moment of live in-person sharing that brought out joyful emotions.

“It is just to celebrate them [students],” Holland said. “Obviously, I’m getting something out of it. I barely have a dry eye.”

Similar events around the county happened earlier in the week, and the Roadrunners were quick to get their own parade going.

“I mentioned it to someone last week,” Holland said, “and Monday it was decided we would do this Friday and bam … you tell people to show up and it is showing up. It is awesome. It is really exciting.”

Holland and her other teachers waved and cheered to dozens of cars filled with families waving and cheering back. The vehicles, both parked and driving, were decorated with signs of appreciation that reminded each participant they were cared for and thought of.

“Just to show them we care,” Holland said, “and that we love them and our community is still here and we are not seeing each other … besides in a screen.”

The event came together quickly, and couldn’t have come at a better time. Holland said the event refilled their cups just enough to get them through the end of the year.

“We were thinking about doing it when they turn in their Chromebooks,” Holland said, “but that is too late at that point. We need it now. We have three weeks of school left and let’s keep … Hi Marcus! … let’s keep this going and show them we love them and our community.”

The spiritual revival of the SRAA diaspora pumped life into the student body to combat the burnout and fatigue of families pulling double shifts as part-time teachers, part-time bread winners, and full-time parents.

“Teaching from home is hard,” Holland said, “especially if you have parents who are working too. I’m working from home too, and have a kiddo … it’s hard. So we are just trying to celebrate them [today] and everything they are doing. And let them know we see them and appreciate them. We love our kids … and just to show that community spirit.”

Holland ran off again to say hi to more of her students who were circling the parking lot.

Getting through this together, Atascadero