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Cunningham Elementary salutes veterans at State Float Parade
Cunningham pic
Cunningham Elementary students pull their state floats through the school as the Turlock High School Color Guard passes by them. - photo by ANGELINA MARTIN/The Journal

Fifth grade students at Cunningham Elementary got a chance to display their float-building expertise on Wednesday when the school held its annual State Float Parade. Floats celebrating each of the nation’s 50 states were marched throughout the campus, giving parents, teachers and others in attendance a chance to celebrate the approaching Memorial Day.


“I think everybody here had goosebumps,” said Principal Tami Truax. “You can really see the pride in each student’s face as they pull their floats around.”


According to Truax, the event has been a mainstay in the school’s culture for about five years. It is common fifth grade curriculum for students to study U.S. history, which also includes studying a state in depth. Instead of keeping the knowledge of their states in the classroom, teachers at Cunningham decided that holding a parade would be the perfect opportunity for students to share what they’ve learned with the school as a whole.


Students lined the hallways where the parade took place, waving their American flags and cheering for the creative, crafty floats their fellow classmates had created, one of which even included a live chicken. Each float was unique, with some students pulling their floats by a string or pushing them on wheels. One student even converted a small bookshelf into a mobile float, complete with a rainy umbrella to symbolize Washington’s rainy climate.


“The parade really lets the whole school know how great our country is,” said Truax.


Also in attendance at the event were local veterans and the Turlock High School Color Guard, who opened the parade with a display of the country’s colors. Manuel Sandoval (Iraq, 2000-2006), Loren Vincent (U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, 1956-1962), Joe Nance (U.S. Air Force, 1968-1988), Bob Glover (U.S. Army, 1963-1965) and Wardee Bruce (U.S. Navy, 1962-1992) were inspired by the effort that the students put into both their floats and the parade’s display of patriotism.


“This isn’t something you see everyday,” said Bruce of the flag-waving, enthusiastic children.


Although it was the first time attending the parade for each of the veterans, they already can’t wait to see what next year has in store.


“We wish there were a lot more floats,” said Nance. “But the kids are the most important thing – it’s great seeing them all out here.”