With waving flags and colorful banners, more than 1,000 students lined the drive between Oak View and Perry Hill elementary schools Nov. 11. The Northwest Allen County School students, accompanied by patriotic music, waved and cheered at cars bearing veterans that participated in a drive-by parade conducted by the two schools in honor of Veterans Day.

Students braved wind and temperatures in the mid-40s for more than 30 minutes to continue the two schools’ Veterans Day tributes. Both Perry Hill and Oak View traditionally host assemblies inside the schools for their students to honor family members who have served in the military. With COVID-19 restrictions, the schools changed their format for Veterans Day to the drive-by parade.

More than 60 vehicles, including a 4-wheeler and a motorcycle, assembled in the schools’ drive, kicking off the parade at 1:15 p.m.

“In prior years, we got to honor each veteran individually at our assembly,” said Oak View fourth-grade teacher Mitch Smith. “This year was different, but it was good, because we still got to let people know that they are appreciated for their service.”

Smith’s fourth-grade students commented that they enjoyed the drive-by parade, but cited different reasons why.

“I really liked how all the nice people complimented our posters,” said Kai Feasel.

Drew Griffen noted that he enjoyed “seeing the veterans wearing their uniforms.” Other students commented that they enjoyed seeing the “cool cars” and “people sticking their heads out the window to wave at us.”

Oak View kindergarten teacher Kaitlynn Gallaway appreciated the new Veterans Day format. “I really like the drive-by parade. It’s great for kids of this age, and it really captured their attention. This is one of the things that COVID-19 brought about that we should consider keeping.”

Oak View Principal Jamie Wilkins concurred. “I thought it was a great way to celebrate Veterans Day, not only for our kids, but also for our veterans.”

Despite the chill, students were excited to participate in the parade.

“I’m gonna go home and ask my grandpa — he’s a veteran —‚ if he’ll give me hot chocolate tonight,” said an Oak View second-grader.

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