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Keeping it fun for Covert fifth graders

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Parents of William S. Covert Elementary School fifth graders are not letting the school year pass by without celebrating.

Since the closing of schools in March, the fifth grade students, who will move up to South Side Middle School in the fall, have missed out on several year-end festivities, including trips to the Ashokan Center in upstate New York and Adventureland, seeing a Broadway show and the fifth grade dance and graduation.

As alternatives to the normal, celebratory events, a group of PTA mothers who comprise the Fifth Grade Committee have been holding “Fifth Grade Fridays” for the 63 Covert students. Each week, there is a socially-distant activity, such as an online trivia with prizes, surprises delivered at doorsteps, a food donation collection for local pantries and virtual raffles.

“We saw how sad upset our kids were about not being able to see their friends,” said Jennifer Pefanis, one of the moms, “so we started this so they had something to look forward to each week.”

Pefanis has been organizing the socially-distant events with fellow mothers of Covert fifth graders, Julie Rosa and Denise Finley.

“This year may not be ending how we had once envisioned,” Pefanis added, “but that does not make it any less special. Our children have learned how to create different end of school year memories.”

For the first week of “Fifth Grade Fridays,” each fifth grader received a tie-dye “Peace Out Covert” magnet in their mailbox. This goes along with the class’s theme for the year. Students were encouraged to wear their school T-shirts, take photos with the magnets and post it to a group on Facebook.

On May 21, the few dozen students gathered, in a socially distant manner, in the Rockville Centre Recreation Center parking lot of a graduation drone photo shoot. Students got to see one another face-to-face again after being apart for more than two months.

Another Friday activity was a food donation collection for the Martin Luther King, Jr., Center pop-up food pantry and Vineyard Church food pantry in Rockville Centre.

Also, Covert created a banner with all 63 elementary school graduates’ names and faces. One Friday, they were encouraged to go to the banner, find their photo, take a selfie with it and post it online. Activities like these have all helped students feel connected during this time, parents said.

“The Covert Class of 2020 will be remembered for their resilience, their courage, their philanthropy, their maturity, and their strength,” Pefanis said. “Covert has given our students a solid foundation and we look forward to taking this with us as our children begin a new journey in middle school.”