Like the classrooms abandoned months ago, there’s a certain emptiness to the end of this school year as students and teachers, who never imagined spring break would quickly merge into summer vacation, miss out on the cathartic laughs and tears that traditionally accompany the last day of classes. For Scarlett Stuckey, a teacher finishing her final year at Obra D. Tompkins High School in Katy, the silence of empty hallways felt particularly jarring as she left her classroom for the last time on May 6.
"I was hoping to see my kids on the last day I was in my classroom, to share in their lasts," the English teacher, who is moving to Indiana, wrote on Facebook. "This is not the end of the year I had hoped for."
A member of the OTHS staff since the school first opened in 2013, Stuckey has worn multiple hats over the years, teaching PreAP English and AP Literature while serving as the school’s Student Council advisor. But it’s her commitment beyond school activities that has made her so beloved by students.
“Mrs. Stuckey has been a second mom to all of the STUCO officers,” says Sarah Josse De Lisle, a Student Council officer from the Class of 2017. “She is someone I can turn to with problems and someone who will celebrate my accomplishments with me, and that has continued through several stages of my life.”
Josse De Lisle was one of many who shared this connection with Stuckey, so when her students realized her final year wouldn’t end with warm goodbyes, they got to work planning a surprise farewell, social-distancing style. Instead of meeting in person, they used a group message to discuss plans and a present— a gift card Stuckey could easily pack for her upcoming move—and filled a Google document with heartfelt messages that were later transferred to a card.
On the afternoon of May 9, Stuckey was playing with her children on her front lawn expecting to greet one former student who’d asked to drop by (all part of the plan, of course), when she was instead met with more than a dozen balloon-covered cars filling her street. As twenty-plus students from the classes of 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020 flooded out and began doing “the wigalow,” her signature dance performed at every Student Council event, Stuckey was frozen in awe, tears welling in her eyes. The occasion was a moment of much-needed joy for everyone involved, but the students still took safety precautions, maintaining six feet of distance while dancing and chatting, and wearing face masks while carpooling to Stuckey’s house, Josse De Lisle says.