GREENSBORO — It’s tradition. Seniors always get a rose at Eastern Guilford High School’s spring dance concert.
Not this year. Not for the Class of COVID-19. Like many school events, the performance was canceled as schools switched to distance learning to finish out the year and help stem the spread of the coronavirus.
Then dance teacher Angie Greene heard one of her students say she was sad to miss receiving her flower. Out of that conversation, an idea bloomed.
“I thought, ‘well I can fix that,’ ” Greene said. “I can’t fix that we aren’t going to perform, but I can fix that you aren’t going to get a rose.”
On Friday morning, Greene and her teenage daughter Sadie Blocker picked up 21 white roses from Garner’s Florist in Greensboro. They spent part of the day driving around to deliver them to all of Greene’s seniors — plus one junior exchange student who will be headed back to Germany soon.
“Hi, sweet girl!” Greene called out to senior Layla Petty, who received her rose at a house on Fisher Park Circle.
“It means a lot,” Petty said, “because you know we are missing out on a lot of things our senior year.”
As Greene visited while handing seniors their roses, she urged them to come back next winter to perform with the high school group. And she told them she loved them.
She urged senior Tyanna Shelf — who said Greene’s expectations had helped keep her out of trouble — to call her anytime.
“Anytime you have an art where you are out in public, everybody sees your successes and failures and I think that changes your relationships with teachers,” Greene said. “They have to be vulnerable enough to trust me, to take that feedback, and become better at what they are doing.”
Greene is also a product of Eastern Guilford’s dance program, which was begun in 1990 by her predecessor. It’s one of about half a dozen high school dance programs in Guilford County Schools, she said.
Some of her visits with the seniors on Friday got a little teary.
When she said, “I love you,” to exchange student Johanna Dorn, outside her host family’s home on Donnell Street, Dorn responded with an emotional, “I love you too!”
“Don’t cry,” Greene said, “I can’t hug you.”
Blocker, a fellow junior and member of the honors dance class, wasn’t willing to hold the social distancing line, darting in to momentarily clasp Dorn and earning herself a swat from Greene.
“Don’t cry, it’s OK, we will still have Zoom class,” Greene told Dorn. “I’m just a phone call away.”