North Gulfport Middle School throws socially distanced luau parade

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School grounds throughout South Mississippi have been relatively quiet lately, but today there were plenty of good vibrations coming from North Gulfport Middle School.

It’s been months since students filled the classrooms at North Gulfport Middle School, but on Thursday, teachers, faculty, and staff turned the campus grounds into a parade route.

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The guests of honor in this luau procession were the seventh grade students wrapping up the school year. Jacklyn Smith’s grandson was one of them. “I think it’s great that they want to get out and do things like this, spend their time and energies to do things. The kids just don’t realize how nice it is and how they’re taking their time.”

The parade was Principal Natasha Williams’ idea and clearly honored social distancing guidelines, but with a twist. “I was just thinking of a way to close out our school year and we just decided because of social distancing we were very limited, but we do have our beautiful campus here, so why not utilize the space that we have. So we decided through our PM car rider line that we could do that. And I always love a luau, so I just added a taste of luau to it.”

And the opportunity for teachers to say goodbye to their students for the summer. Seventh grade history teacher Douglas Reid said, “You know, you get to know these kids. You spend almost as much time with them as you do your own family. And so to say goodbye, to that closure, you know, to give them that push, that catalyst to their next grade level. It’s just encouraging.”

Despite the abrupt ending to the school year due to COVID-19, faculty and students hope to be back in the classroom this fall. “Well, this pandemic might have closed the year. It might have ended it abruptly, but hopefully we’ll be able to come back strong in the fall and we’ll power through and get through that year. And it will be exciting to see what happens. Until then, we’ll motivate and encourage from a distance.”

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Grace Boyles was born and raised in Traverse City, Michigan, the “Cherry Capitol of the World”. She graduated with honors from the University of Michigan with dual majors, earning degrees in Communications and Creative Writing. During her time at Michigan, Grace broadcasted countless sporting events for the Big Ten Network, from baseball to men’s and women’s basketball to wrestling. Grace’s favorite sport to cover, however, was Michigan football from the sidelines at the Big House— even when it was 25 degrees and snowing! Grace is excited and eager to explore the Gulf Coast, meet new people, and learn more about this incredible community while telling the area’s news and sports stories.

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