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Sycamore Creek Community Charter School cheers on seniors, essential workers with parade in Huntington Beach

Angelina, center, and her sister Shelby Kliewer, right, hold signs as Corine Witherby, 91, left, applauds as the Sycamore Creek Community Charter School Senior Cheer Parade drives by the Huntington Terrace Senior Living on the 18800 block of Florida Street in Huntington Beach on Saturday.
(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

Students, teachers and community members of the Sycamore Creek Community Charter School were planning for a parade for weeks.

On Saturday, the “cheer parade” in Huntington Beach for seniors and healthcare workers was scheduled to start on Franklin Drive. The plan was to loop participants down Delaware Street and past several senior housing and care facilities along the way.

The goal of the parade, Sarah Bach, founder and executive director of the charter school, said, was to connect students with the Huntington Beach community.

“We were having a meeting [for fundraising and community building on May 8] and we were trying to think of different things that we could do. Who needs help? What can we do that builds our own community of families during this time, because it’s really hard on everyone to be separated,” Bach said.

After thinking about the seniors and essential workers affected most by the coronavirus pandemic, the team struck upon the idea of holding a parade, similar to the birthday parades that have grown in popularity since state and local regulations prohibited large gatherings.

Seniors from Huntington Terrace Senior Living wave at a van with a message as the Sycamore Creek Community Charter School Senior Cheer Parade drives by their location on the 18800 block of Florida Street in Huntington Beach on Saturday.
(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

“We kind of bounced off of that idea that we could bring cheer to a … retirement or senior living row that has so many centers and all different kinds of levels of isolation right now and hopefully impact as many people as possible and also thank those hero workers on the front lines with those individuals,” Alisha Walker, board president of the charter, said.

“I was able to reach out [to] some of the centers,” Walker said. “We don’t want to give them any extra work. How can we celebrate them without creating more work for them? We know that you’re impacted in a really real and significant way."

Students were asked to write three letters each and the charter school on 17131 Emerald Lane provided supplies to do so during a supply pickup on May 12. Older students were asked to write letters, while younger students were asked to draw or paint something to give to seniors and healthcare workers currently in isolation.

Seniors from Huntington Terrace Senior Living wave at a local police vehicle as the Sycamore Creek Community Charter School Senior Cheer Parade drives by their location in Huntington Beach on Saturday.
(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

As of Saturday afternoon, the number of COVID-19 cases has reached 6,100 with about 665 of those cases reported in skilled nursing facilities in Orange County.

The goal was to send at least 240 letters, though some families have written and drawn more, including Daisy Linser and her son, Lincoln, who wrote almost 40.

Linser, who is an office manager and Spanish teacher for the charter, said she felt that having students and her son participate in the cheer parade helped model behavior for them to consider others. Linser said the practice has made her think about how first responders have been asked to “step into adverse situations.”

“But in this period in our community with the virus, it’s thought-provoking and how fortunate we are that this group of community workers have always sacrificed for us,” Linser said. “Not just now, but always.”

“I think we’re just trying to hope to convey that we care about [seniors and healthcare workers],” Walker said. “You’re an important part of our community and we hope that we can spread some joy and let you know that we’re all in this together and that we’re thinking about you.”

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Senior Bev Ison, 79, right, from Huntington Terrace Senior Living waves as the Sycamore Creek Community Charter School Senior Cheer Parade drives by their location in Huntington Beach on Saturday.
(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)


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