Throughout distance learning, Wilemon STEAM Academy staff strived to support their students and families, as well as show them how much they miss and love them.

At the beginning of distance learning, Wilemon staff wrote personalized notes on postcards and mailed them to students. The students loved getting mail with a note just for them, educators said.

More recently, Wilemon staff presented gifts to their students to mark the end of the school year.

Kelly Kahlden, a staff member at Wilemon, organized a team to decide on items that the students could use for years to come. Kahlden shared that the team "...wanted students to have something to let them know we were thinking about them and that we missed them. We were excited about the possibility of giving things they could keep and books they could continue reading."

Glenna Reisner, librarian, donated books to all students for the gift bags, according to their grade level. The staff delivered gifts to all students --- more than 400 homes --- and were able to see the students’ faces light up. The gifts included a Wilemon bag, three new books, a note, and sunglasses. The sunglasses had the Wilemon slogan, "The Future Is Bright at Wilemon," on them.

"With the school year ending in a different way than we have ever seen, we wanted to spread joy to our Wilemon community," said Principal Kate Authier.

"It was such a joy to see so many smiling faces while delivering," said Dani Moore, a Wilemon staff member.

"Getting to deliver gifts to my students and Wilemon families was the highlight of distance learning," said teacher Lace Trout. "As a teacher, the Zooms have been amazing, but to actually get to see my students in person and see their smiles and excitement brought me to tears. They were so excited to see their teacher on the other side of the doorbell and just putting a smile on their faces in a time of uncertainty was worth it. I am so thankful and blessed for our Wilemon family."

Wilemon parent Whitney Bang expressed her appreciation, saying, "During the course of COVID-19, we have seen Wilemon staff go above and beyond in so many ways. They are a living example of ’rising up’ in a time of difficulty. We have received two in-person (social distance) visits at our home, a hand-written letter, a gift bag with all kinds of goodies, and countless class Zoom calls with our teacher and the counselor. The staff at Wilemon is so caring and thoughtful, and they make sure that each and every student feels special and loved. The fact that every single student (out of hundreds) not only received a gift but an in-person visit for delivery, as well as handwritten letters, is amazing! We are SO proud to be a part of the Wilemon STEAM family! We love them!"

"It was a very exciting surprise for Sophia," said Lora Delossantos, a Wilemon parent. "She enjoyed seeing a familiar face from school and all the goodies. We love our Wilemon family."

"It was such a special treat to have Ms. Montgomery deliver the gift bags to the girls," said Stephanie Snow, another Wilemon parent. "We all miss our Wilemon family so much. Even in this weird time our school future feels bright because of the hard work of our teachers and staff! We can’t wait to see everyone again."

Wilemon students were also excited:

Jensen Bang: "Seeing Mrs. Garrison made me smile. It felt great! I miss Wilemon, and can't wait to get back to school!"

Luke Trout: "I was shocked! It made me feel great! I want to say thank you Wilemon."

Ansley Trout: "I was excited to see Mrs. Beratto and happy to get to talk to her. I really liked the book and sunglasses. The bag was awesome because I did not have one of those bags. I love and miss Wilemon so much."

Riley Clark: "It made me feel happy. I was really glad to see my teacher because I hadn’t seen her in so long, except on Zoom. So, it made me feel happy to see her face to face. I wish I could hug her."

Gunner Clark: "I was really happy because I miss school. I miss them a lot. I was happy they gave me some stuff."

Ma’Riyah Chance: "I felt so happy and excited to know that my teacher was thinking about us in these crazy times. I can’t wait to see you again!"

Maddison Chance: "I felt excited to see someone other than my parents and my sister."

Mckenzie and Mckayla Santos: "When Mrs. Trout came over it was very exciting. I got a very happy feeling and I thank you."