FSGES teachers

Francis S. Grandinetti Elementary School teachers Erica Vogt, Tara Frank, Brandi Smith and Jason Phipps are pictured on the day they delivered graduation caps to students.

RIDGWAY — Teachers at Francis S. Grandinetti Elementary School in Ridgway recently came together to provide a special experience for kindergarten students.

Kindergarten teacher Erica Vogt said kindergarten graduation and the end-of-year play had to be canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic school closings.

So, on June 2, she and her kindergarten team — Tara Frank and Brandi Smith — and music teacher Jason Phipps delivered graduation caps and gift bags to every kindergartener in the district.

“Each kindergarten teacher gave the bags out to our respective students, and took graduation photos with their diploma and caps,” Vogt said.

The teachers each wore masks and abided by social distancing, she notes.

“We posted Facebook Live videos on our school page to indicate where we were on our route,” she said. “Every single child was watching and waiting for us on their front porches. Their delight was magical.”

The FSGES main office secretary acted as a “navigator” for the teachers, Vogt notes, and the school nurse created handmade masks to match the teachers’ costumes, a surprise gift to them.

Phipps, who produces and directs the end-of-year play, paid for each child’s T-shirt costume, Vogt said.

“The costumes were in the gift bag given to each child,” she said. “We then asked students to send us a picture of themselves in their costume, along with a video on FlipGrid of all the songs for our play, and/or their specific part in the play.”

Phipps is using these pieces to produce a virtual play, which premieres Thursday.

“This has been quite an undertaking, especially for Mr. Phipps who has been working tirelessly to make sure our kids have a wonderful experience,” Vogt said.

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