St. Matthew Community Preschool marked the end of the school year by saying goodbye to its students with a drive-through procession around the church and school at 1951 Wilshire Drive in Frankfort.

A long parade of parents’ vehicles made its way around the campus from 11 a.m. to noon Monday. The first to greet them was program administrator Mary Kay Baker, who handed out yearbooks and materials for the next school year. They then proceeded around the back of the building where staff were spread out ready to greet their students and hand out summer packets.

“We had a really good turnout yesterday. I was really pleased,” Baker said. “It was really neat, and it was just what we needed.

“We handed out yearbooks,” Baker continued. “Hawaiian Shaved Ice gave us coupons, which we ran out of early on, and I also handed out packets for people who have registered for next year and all the paper work they will need to turn in. It was also a good reminder for those families that forgot to order a yearbook or register for next year.”

After the novel coronavirus pandemic abruptly ended school back in mid-March, the preschool planned a similar drive-through greeting, but that was then canceled when the travel advisory was announced.

On Monday, the teachers and students finally got to see each other in person, albeit through the open windows of the many cars, vans, jeeps and trucks.

“I think it was a perfect time for closure,” Baker said. “The teachers needed a closure of the end of the year. It was just so nice and warmed our hearts seeing our families come back and saying goodbye. It was a great day overall and just what our hearts needed. It was a blessed day.

“When we left on that Friday (in March), we thought we would be closed for a couple of days and then we would be back,” she added. “But no – we did not.”

“When we left the school, it was such a crazy way to end, and it ended so abruptly,” said teacher Meg Corriveau. “We didn’t know it was going to end. So, it was nice to be able to see the kids and tell them to have a good summer. It was nice to have some closure to the year that we didn’t get to have.”

There were many smiling faces in the procession, but also some tears.

Among the many St. Matthew Preschool students who rode through the procession to see their teachers was 5-year-old Isla, who was brought by her mother, Becky Griffy.

“She was very excited to see her teachers and to get her papers,” Griffy said. “But it was also very confusing because now she is asking more questions about ‘When do I go back to school?’ and ‘When do I see my teachers again?’ It is kind of hard for the little ones to understand.

“I thought it was great that they did it, so the kids did get a chance to see their teachers one last time,” Griffey added. “It is also kind of sad that they missed out on the end of the year and just being able to have a typical goodbye with their classmates and teachers. They just love their teachers and their friends. The teachers treat them as their own, so to not be able to have real hugs and goodbyes that way is tough.”

The event was also an opportunity for now-retired teachers Jane Carter, Jacki Crum and Linda Anno to say goodbye to their students and fellow staff members. The trio, who had 107 combined years of experience among them, were given tiaras and sashes to wear during the procession.

“We surprised them with a little party afterward,” Baker said. “We carried-in food and celebrated them. They were very grateful for what we did, and it was a chance for us to tell them how much we appreciated them and how much they have done for St. Matthew Preschool.”

“It was great to see them,” Corriveau said. “We didn’t get to have a proper goodbye and celebrate them the way we probably would have, so it was nice to do something for them. They have all worked together for so many years, so it was good for them to say goodbye.”

Baker said that she is blessed to have a “wonderful” staff and that she is looking forward to next year.

“Online registration is going really well,” she said. “We have 178 and there are 30 openings left. We will start contacting parents in August about Open House dates and times, and we start right after Labor Day.”

The link to register can be found on the St. Matthew Community Preschool’s Facebook page or at www.stmatthewfrankfort.com.