SHELTON — Students and staff from each of the schools began the process of saying goodbye this week with a series of drive-by celebrations.

Interim Superintendent Beth Smith announced last week that each school will have a student/parent drive-by, and Sunnyside School opened the celebrations Monday.

“Today was an amazing day on so many levels,” said Sunnyside School Principal Amy Yost. “Our students have shown grit and perseverance through this most unique and challenging time of distance learning. They were ripped away from everything normal’- routines, friends, teachers. Today was a way to celebrate their hard work and launch them into the summer knowing that we are all safe and here for them.”

Yost said the students needed to see staff members’ faces, staff also needed to see their faces in person.

“Although our district and families have embraced distance learning and made it a success, school is about communities and human interactions,” said Yost. “Seeing our students’ faces today was the best. It was hard for many, both staff and students, to keep our distance and not give high-fives or hugs. We are Sunnyside strong.”

Because of social distancing and traffic flow, all schools are using Shelton High School for their scheduled end-of-the-year vehicle parade. Drive-bys will continue with Perry Hill School, June 15; and Shelton Intermediate School, June 16.

“The Long Hill School drive-by celebration was a great way for us to connect with our families,” said Long Hill Principal Andrea D’Aiuto. “Even though this is not how we envisioned the end of the school year to look like, the parade brought closure to this school year.”

D’Aiuto said the drive-by was a great opportunity for the LHS staff to be able to see the students and their families.

“It was so exciting to see so many of our families participate in the drive-by celebration - their cars were decorated with school colors and messages to our teachers,” said D’Aiuto. “I feel that as a school community, we all needed this to lift our spirits as well as to say goodbye to our students as the school year comes to a close.”

Elizabeth Shelton School Principal Bev Belden said staffers beamed with excitement at the thought of seeing the students’ smiling faces again.

“When we last were with our students on March 12, we never imagined that the year would end this way,” said Belden, the longtime principal who is retiring this year. “Staff have worked tirelessly throughout distance learning to maintain connections with students. It is so important for both students and staff to have this last good-bye and have some closure to the school year.”

A drive-by for Shelton High School’s Class of 2020 only will be held June 17. Drive-bys for high school students in grades 9 to 11 will be June 18.

“School administrators and Shelton public schools security will be on hand to facilitate the activity and to ensure that expectations are being adhered to,” said Smith. “As the health and safety of our staff, students, parents and the community is paramount, anyone not following expectations will be asked to leave school grounds.”

Smith said students and parents must adhere to the following expectations:

Any parent/student who is feeling ill, has someone ill in their house or who may have been in contact with someone who has COVID-19 should not participate.

Every parent/child must wear a face mask/covering when on school grounds.

Students/parents will be allowed to enter Shelton High School via the North Constitution Boulevard entrance at 1 p.m. Traffic will flow through the parking lot and exit on Meadow Street.

The drive through will start at approximately 1 p.m. Students/parents will remain in their vehicles and keep the flow of traffic moving. Stopping, individual teacher visits and the exchange of any goods will not be allowed.

Drive throughs will end when the last car in the flow of traffic has gone through the parking lot.

Students/parents are encouraged to wear school colors/attire. You may decorate your car and have signs/noise makers, etc. This is a school spirit event. Additional information will be communicated by building principals.

Shelton High School will not be open for entrance during the drive-bys. This is a voluntary activity for employees.

brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com