KINSTON, N.C. — If medical personnel at UNC Lenoir Health Care ever wondered how the community viewed their work during the coronavirus pandemic, a group of about 50 students from South Lenoir High School told them long and loud on Thursday night.
Waving pompons, displaying handmade signs and cheering at pep-rally volume, the school’s Student Council Association (SCA) and HOSA club lined the employee entrance at the Kinston hospital during the evening shift change to show their appreciation for the long hours worked in stressful conditions by doctors, nurses and hospital staff.
Whether they were reporting to work or leaving for the night, hospital workers got the same message: thank you.
“After all the hard work the health care workers have done for the community, we just wanted to do something to show our appreciation and cheer them on,” David Phillippe, SCA president, said.
Around him, fellow students whooped as a nurse strode up the sidewalk they lined. Their signs reflected admiration and encouragement in a variety of words. Grateful. Thankful. Heroes. Awesome. One sign read, “Real heroes wear scrubs.”
“This shows their community involvement,” South Lenoir business teacher Melanie Smith said of the students. “They are grateful for what the health-care workers have done in the last couple of years.”
Smith and science teacher Sarah York advise the SCA. After principal Elizabeth Pierce encouraged student outreach, “we got together with HOSA and with other clubs to see if they wanted to participate and here we are,” York said.
HOSA is a club for students in the health science curriculum, part of LCPS’s Career and Technical Education program. Over the past month, SCA and HOSA students planned the show of appreciation and spent the past week making their signs, while their advisers coordinated with the hospital.
Hailey Jones, SCA vice president, has a deep understanding of the pressue health care workers are under due to Covid. Her mother, Ashley, is a nurse at UNC Lenoir.
“She would come home after long hours and, not complain, but just being really disappointed about what was going on,” Hailey said. “Being out here showing our appreciation will definitely cheer them on.”
Hospital personnel answered the students’ cheers with smiles, waves and thumbs-up signs. Nurses still on duty waved at the students out the windows of the hospital’s upper floors.
“Obviously we’ve had a tough year and a half and I think this is something that can put a little pep in their step, create a little excitement,” Madison Zeagler, marketing assistant at UNC Lenoir, said. “I know they appreciate it.”