With permission from the city of Defiance, St. John Lutheran School had parts of Wayne Avenue and Arabella Street blocked off on Thursday evening in order to host a year-end Traffic Jam for staff to say good-bye to students at the of the 2019-20 school year.

Families parked their vehicles up and down Wayne Avenue, and in the parking lots at the end of the school building and across the street, for the event which featured music, treats and the honoring of the preschool graduates and eighth-grade graduates.

Led by principal Shellie Kosmerchock, teachers and staff, and with a sound system set up in front of the school, everyone practiced social distancing, while dancing and singing to music. When the names of the preschool and eighth-grade graduates were read, the families of those graduates honked their horns in delight.

“We had a really good turnout, people followed the rules and stayed by their cars, and I think everyone just had a great time,” said Kosmerchock, who has announced her retirement as principal after six years, to move closer to family in Wisconsin. “It was fun to see everyone after so long, and to have the chance to say good-bye.

“Every morning during the school week since we’ve been closed, I’ve done a live devotion with the families,” continued Kosmerchock. “As we got closer to the end of the year, I kept thinking, what can we do for a year-end celebration? So I talked to the teachers and staff, contacted the city and this is what we came up with.”

After coming with the plan, Kosmerchock shared how excited the parents were to be a part of the Traffic Jam.

“I had so many parents, especially parents of our 4-year-olds, tell me how much they were looking forward to this,” said Kosmerchock, who will officially retire on June 7. “When I told the staff about this idea, they were excited and jumped right in to make it happen. I know our staff misses our kids as much as I do.

“Everything went really well, better than I expected,” added Kosmerchock. “It was so much fun, and it turned out to be such a great end to the year, especially after everything that’s happened (with the COVID-19 pandemic). It was really sweet, but it was also bittersweet for me. I’m really going to miss my second family.”

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