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Chef puppet helping students adjust and have fun during an unusual school year

Together with a rotating cast of teachers at Cayuga Heights Elementary, "Chef Hugo" appears in videos about how to wear masks, Zoom etiquette, and more.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Like most places, the 2020 school year is off to an unusual start at Cayuga Heights Elementary in Depew. 

"Quite honestly, we were a little nervous about how the year was going to be," Assistant Principal Rebecca Fatta told 2 On Your Side. "We didn't know how the kids were going to be with wearing their masks and staying away from each other."

But unlike other schools, this one has had a distraction from all the strangeness of 2020. A special visitor from France. 

"Well I came to Cayuga Heights from a restaurant in Paris where I was working," the visitor, a puppet chef named Hugo, said. "I've been all over the world." 

Chef Hugo has been helping out in more places than just the school cafeteria. He appears in videos with assistant principal Rebecca Fatta and a rotating cast of teachers. They use the videos to talk to the students about the right way to wear their masks, how to behave on Zoom and more. 

"They love Hugo," Rebecca said about the Cayuga students. "They will often say in the hallway when I see them, 'Mrs. Fatta, we saw you on TV,' which their smartboard in their classroom, but to them, that's a big deal."

His messages may be silly, but they've brought the school together .

"I like to think that I, Chef Hugo, am made up of all the hearts of Cayuga Kids," he said. "That's where I come from, I'm just a representation of these Cayuga Kids."

"I think it really does unify us, to all be hearing that same message, and to understand what's important in our schools in our school family," Rebecca added. 

Watch Daybreak each morning through November 6 to meet more of Western New York's Terrific Teachers!