Willow School students cruise to first grade

Beep! Beep! Box Car Parade coming through at Willow School!
 
The kindergarteners stayed in their lane and obeyed the speed limit as they brought their super duper roadsters out for a spin on the grounds of the school Tuesday.
 
Parents and friends lined the driveway behind the Homewood school at 9:30 a.m. for the annual Box Car Parade, a tradition that’s more than three decades old.
 
The eight kindergarten classes and several Daily Living Skills students got to work on their cars the week of May 30, busily cutting out the headlights and taillights, the steering wheel and odometer. 
 
Each student also colored the steering wheel, the odometer and a key for their special vehicle and created a side view mirror using aluminum foil.
 
They got to pick the color they would paint the box provided by District 153. Once they dried over the weekend, parent volunteers came to school to help students attach the lights, steering wheel, odometer and the four black wheels. String served as shoulder straps that helped keep the car upright.
 
It’s a challenge to get the more than 20 students per class organized, but teacher Pam Kappmeyer said the kids love the project. 
 
It’s also easier for her now that kindergarten is full time. When kindergarten was a half day, she worked with 42 students making cars in morning and afternoon sessions.
 
The parade had been held in the winter but got moved to the end of the school year in 2018, Kappmeyer explained. Changing the schedule gives parents a chance to see the parade. 
 
Each kindergarten teacher carried a sign that read: “Cruising to 1st Grade” as they led their students out of the building and around to the back playground area. A mild rain shortened the route, but the drizzle didn’t stop about 40 parents and friends from gathering at the school. 
 
Kappmeyer’s own children, now adults, remember the Box Car Parade as the best thing about kindergarten.
 
“It’s the one tradition that we will keep going,” she said.
 

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