‘Guess Who’ safely reunites teachers, students at Decas School

May 14, 2020

A line of cars filled the bus lane at the John W. Decas Elementary School, extended onto Main Street, around the corner onto Station Street, and snaked through the parking lot as parents chauffeured excited students to play a socially-distanced, live-action game of Guess Who on Wednesday.

Earlier in the week, Decas Principal Bethany Chandler published a list of clues to the identities of 18 mystery guests online. Clues included signature accessories, like Converse sneakers, information about pets, and classroom location.

The “mystery guests” were stationed in order along the curved bus driveway as students’ parents slowly pulled through, stopping in front of each guest. Kids shouted out their best guess while the guests hid their faces behind question mark signs before revealing their identity and giving the kids a small prize, whether they guessed right or not.

Beyond the fun of the game, the activity gave teachers and students the opportunity to safely see each other in person -- often for the first time in months.

Decas held a smaller version of the event on May 6, but the staff were shocked and delighted by the huge turnout this week as 90 cars showed up.

“We’ll have to get a police detail next week!” exclaimed Chandler.

Chandler said that the opportunity to see each other is as fun for teachers as it is for students.

“We miss our children,” Chandler said. “We see them virtually, but this is different.”

Deanna Semple, the school’s physical education teacher and dean of students, said she couldn’t believe how good the turn out was.

“It’s so awesome to see them all,” Semple said. “I miss them so much.”

Kelly Burke, who has taught both first and second grade at the school, said that being apart from her students has been devastating.

“I’m crushed to be without them,” Burke said. “They become like family.”

Sarah Greene, a special education teacher, agreed that connecting virtually can’t replace in-person interactions.

“Even though I see them on the Zoom calls, to see them in person pulls on your heartstrings,” Greene said. 

Macee Doyle, a second grade teacher, said that parents had also expressed appreciation for the events which provide a fun, safe way to get out of the house.

Helene Owen, a secretary at Decas, said that the kid’s excitement showed how much the vast majority of students want to return to school.

Clues for next week’s game will be posted on the Decas School Facebook page on Monday or Tuesday.