Peck, Thomson communities connect after weeks of remote learning

Events follow distancing guidelines while celebrating students and teachers

Casey Van Divier
cvandivier@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 5/13/20

For some elementary school staff in Arvada, the week of May 4 meant celebratory events to commemorate the end of the year. And end-of-year events meant interviews with local media, which for each …

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Peck, Thomson communities connect after weeks of remote learning

Events follow distancing guidelines while celebrating students and teachers

Posted

For some elementary school staff in Arvada, the week of May 4 meant celebratory events to commemorate the end of the year.

And end-of-year events meant interviews with local media, which for each teacher and principal, brought out the emotion as they thought of their students.

“Seeing them is one of the things that makes us want to do the job. I don’t know a teacher who doesn’t miss their kids by now, and they miss us just as much,” said Nikki Nesladek, a first-grade teacher at Thomson Elementary. “I’m hoping they know just how much we love them.”

May 7, Thomson Elementary staff held a parade organized by Nesladek and her fellow staff members, school district security and the Arvada Police Department.

Staff members stayed in their cars and drove along the parade route, which reached into the neighborhoods along W. 76th Avenue and to the north and south of Thomson Elementary. In turn, families watched from their lawns or inside of their homes, some of which boasted Thomson-themed decorations.

Students who do not live in the neighborhood were invited to park in the Thomson parking lot, one of the stops on the parade route.

“We miss them so much. This is so the kids get to see us,” said principal Lisa Nicholson. “I think our entire staff is here.”

May 6, Peck Elementary also found a way to celebrate its students, holding a tree-planting ceremony in honor of the graduating fifth-graders who wouldn’t be able to participate in their own tree-planting tradition this year. For 34 years, since the 1980s, outgoing Peck students have planted trees in an Arvada park to benefit their environment and enjoy one last milestone before moving on to middle school.

With the usual tradition unable to go forward because of social distancing guidelines related to COVID-19, the school instead organized for a tree to be planted on school grounds to commemorate the fifth-graders.

“This tree-planting is something they look forward to and know about from the time they enter Peck,” said principal Deb Pearce. “It’s that milestone for the end of the year and now, the city’s doing the service in honor of them.”

At the morning event, city employees including forester Craig Hillegass helped plant the tree, with Peck employees — including former teacher Dudley Weiland, who first created the project — finished the planting.

Since the tradition started, the school hasn’t missed a year — “We’ve planted in the snow, in the rain,” Pearce said. “It’s so important we continue.”

The ceremony was recorded to be shared with the Peck community, Pearce said. In keeping with tradition, students were also invited to stop by the school individually to pick up an Evergreen seedling, which the students can plant at home.

“We love (our students) very much and wish they could be here,” fifth-grade teacher Danielle Crowell said during the ceremony. “We hope you guys can come by at a good time and see your tree.”

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