Smith Middle School’s annual Veterans Day observance is going on parade this year, with a 3 p.m. campus drive-through event to honor those who served.
“Our campus has a long-standing tradition of honoring veterans, including special guests of our students, at a schoolwide program held on Veterans Day,” Principal Amber White said. “While large gatherings and assemblies are not taking place at this time, as a COVID precaution, we are excited to be hosting a parade to honor staff members, family and friends of students and those in our neighborhood who are veterans.”
Smith is among the CISD campuses that has gotten creative in conducting activities in a new way in the face of the pandemic. Instead of the usual Jacket Camp for incoming sixth graders preceding the first day of school, Smith hosted a “Meet the Teacher” drive-through in which faculty members were able to greet their new students and pass out information.
Under the guidance of School Resource Officer Keith Fox, Wednesday’s parade participants will line up in their cars in the front drive of the school, 1710 Country Club Road, with overflow on the shoulder of Nolan River Road. Participants will drive by groups of cheering students, the Smith cheerleaders and football teams, stopping briefly for performances by the SMS choir and Wind Ensemble.
Students will be dressed in America’s colors — by grade level — with the sixth grade in red, seventh grade in white and eighth grade in blue.
“We’ll have these student groups in designated areas around the school, including our performing groups,” White said. “Those in the parade can stop and listen for a minute before driving on. Our students are very excited about this new way of honoring the special patriots in our community. We sent invitations home with them last week to share with veterans they hope will join the parade.”
White credits the Smith social studies department, led by eighth-grade history teacher and department chair Kathy Misek, as the driving force behind the parade.
“Ms. Misek came to me and asked if a parade might be considered in the place of an assembly,” White said. “She and her fellow social studies teachers have done a lot of the planning in getting this from an idea to an event.”
Misek said she wanted to maintain the Smith tradition of honoring local veterans and felt a parade would be a good option.
“We have had a Veterans Day event every year since this campus opened, and have always had a nice turnout from veterans,” Misek said. “I just couldn’t see the tradition stopping for even one year. I thought, why not go back to that ‘home town parade,’ which was the way many observances were originally celebrated. This will be the third parade for our campus since the COVID outbreak, so we have gotten pretty good at putting one on.”
Misek’s father, who was a veteran of the Vietnam war, with 21 years of service in the U.S. Army, was among those who attended the Smith assemblies through the years.
“My father passed away a year and a half ago,” Misek said. “He’s always in my heart. He’s my inspiration in planning our Veterans Day parade.”
Veterans attending the Smith parade will have the option of parking at a designated area at the back of the school to receive goodie bags that are being put together by students. Information and a map detailing the parade route and the location of performances is posted on the Smith Middle School and CISD Facebook pages.