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Baldwin Creek Elementary staff said farewell to students on Monday and Tuesday, celebrating a unique school year marked by growth and perseverance.

A sign of the times, for the most part students and families remained in their vehicles as they pulled through the school parking lot to share goodbyes, pick up personal belongings and score some sweet parting gifts purchased locally with funds provided by the Lander Kiwanis.

“We’re so proud of our fourth and fifth graders,” said BCE principal Jade Morton. “They grew tremendously during our time together this year.

h/t BCE – BCE staff Annalissa Purdum, Kendra Wolfe-Welsh, principal Jade Morton and Marissa Powell

“Certainly, we wish we could have finished it out with our Bobcat family in the building,” Morton said of the crisis conditions necessitating two months of distance learning, “but our students and staff rose to the occasion and made the best of the situation. The challenges of COVID dramatically altered the academic dynamic, but the lessons learned about the importance of adaptability and flexibility when faced with change are valuable, as well.”

Morton said that continued connection and communication with students was priority number one during the impromptu distance learning. “Our focus from day one of school closure was to maintain connection with our kids. Just check-in and say hi, ask how they’re doing, tell them we missed them,” he explained. “We wanted to reassure our kids that we are still there for them.”

h/t BCE – BCE staff members Therese Woodruff and Vanessa Hitchcock

“I’m incredibly thankful for our BCE staff members,” added Morton of the efforts of school personnel. “These individuals strived to balance their needs and those of their own families with those of our students. This staff rallied around our kids.”

As part of the end-of-year sendoff, drawings were held for a wide variety of prizes bought from local merchants.

“The Lander Kiwanis approached us and said that they would like to provide funding for items to be distributed to our students,” Morton explained. “It was a very generous donation, and the money allowed us to purchase a large number of gifts. Every student received something.”

Fifth-grader Eliza Scott and fourth-grader Kester Ukpode-Obomese won the top prizes, bikes from The Bike Mill and Gannett Peak Sports.

Morton said spending locally was an important consideration. “We wanted to help keep Lander strong by supporting our local businesses and circulating those dollars in our community.”

h/t BCE for sharing the above information and photos

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