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Closing out the school year: Team Kirtland celebrates graduates with a parade

A parade.

A parade was held on Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, May 15, 2020, to celebrate fifth graders graduating to middle school. Due to social distancing, Sandia Base Elementary School found a creative way to celebrate their students without their normal graduation ceremony. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ireland Summers)

Teachers wave to students in a parade.

Sandia Base Elementary School staff wave to their students in a parade at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, May 15, 2020. The parade included firetrucks, security forces cars with sirens and lights on, teachers and other supporters driving decorated vehicles. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ireland Summers)

A family waits for a parade.

A Team Kirtland family waits to see a parade on Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, May 15, 2020. Sandia Base Elementary School hosted a parade for their fifth graders in celebration of graduation to middle school. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ireland Summers)

Families wave as a parade passes by.

Team Kirtland families wave as a parade passes through dorm housing on Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, May 15, 2020. Sandia Base Elementary School hosted a parade for their fifth graders as a way of celebrating elementary school graduation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ireland Summers)

KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, NM --

Sandia Base Elementary School, located on Kirtland Air Force Base, hosted a parade through base housing on May 15, 2020, to celebrate students graduating from the fifth grade. 

Every year, Sandia Base Elementary School holds a graduation for their fifth graders as they move into middle school. This year, graduation looked very different. 

This event allowed staff and students to close the school year out and celebrate achievements despite the unusual circumstances. 

“The transition from elementary school to middle school is a huge milestone for students and families and we always celebrate it,” said Jude Garcia, Sandia Base Elementary School principal.  “Our students, staff and families weren’t able to have either of those this year and we knew that we needed to do something.”

According to Garcia, this was a way for the school to solidify their relationship between the families and the KAFB community. 

In the parade, KAFB firetrucks and security forces vehicles had their sirens and lights going while Sparky the Fire Dog and McGruff the Crime Dog waved to the kids. Teachers and others from the community also decorated their vehicles and displayed signs of gratitude and congratulations for the students to see. 

“The kids loved it,” said Dawn Hookano-Erskine, Base Exchange cashier and parent. “I just love how the community came together for this.” 

As the parade drove throughout the base and into the villages, students and their parents waved from curbside, sending their farewells for the year. 

“The staff had many emotions during the parade today,” said Garcia. “Joy in seeing our students and families, sadness in saying goodbye to some of our students and families and pride in being part of such a wonderful community.”