Donna Kramer-Almon should be helping kids to dance right now.
Instead, the owner of Fierce Motions in Dance in Van Alstyne spends her days cleaning her studio and reconfiguring it for business in the age of social distancing.
The studio is tentatively slated to reopen on May 18.
The financial impact of COVID-19 has obviously been hard, but so has the emotional one. Simply put, Kramer-Almon misses working with her young students.
“It’s devastating. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked into the studio and just cried,” she said. “But we’ve all learned from it and can grow from it, so that’s the most important thing. Every experience is there for a reason.”
One thing that has been on her mind lately is how the experience has affected high school seniors. She has two children of her own who are not yet seniors.
On a visit to the high school, Kramer-Almon noticed that seniors have pennants on the walls that feature their photos and college plans. She thought maybe she could do something similar.
“I figured if we did them on a poster and put them in all of the windows of the businesses downtown, then they could actually at least get some type of recognition and let (them) know that the people of the city and the community care about them,” she said.
Now, multiple downtown businesses are displaying signs recognizing local students as they prepare to graduate.
Senior Evan Gonzalez says it helps knowing that people are thinking about them.
“It’s definitely reassuring that there are people out there trying to make it better for us,” he said.
That sentiment was shared by fellow senior Tatum Wylie, who said she appreciates all that the community has done.
“I know that a lot of students were really disappointed to have their senior year kind of taken away from them,” she said. “This is very reassuring to know that people still care.”
Kramer-Almon is quick to point out that she is one of many people who have rallied behind local students over the past few months.
Realtor JC Young helped create yard sings and delivered them to each senior. Cookies by Lilly delivered graduation cookies along with the signs.
Van Alstyne Nutrition had a senior Saturday event last weekend, offering discounted products. On May 22, the city will host a Class of 2020 parade beginning at 6:30 p.m.
Senior Hailey Pennington is one of many students grateful for the Adopt a Senior Facebook page created by Amy Caldwell. For the past three weeks, local residents and businesses have “adopted” seniors by recognizing them online and delivering gift baskets to them.
“Being in a small town, you have a lot of support,” she said. “I think after school shut down, it really occurred to us just how much support there really is.”