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story.lead_photo.caption Cedar Hill Elementary School students shyly hold up hand-colored signs to wish veterans a happy Veterans Day during a parade Wednesday. The school usually holds a special Veterans Day assembly but was forced to get creative and figure out a way to honor veterans that allowed for better social distancing. Photo by Liv Paggiarino / News Tribune.

Veterans honked, waved and wiped away tears as they drove by children thanking them for their service and wishing them a happy Veterans Day.

The children waved American flags and held colorful handmade "thank you" signs decorated with flags and hearts.

Cedar Hill Elementary School in Jefferson City had a "reverse" Veterans Day parade Wednesday morning. School counselor Jessica Engler, who helped organize the event, handed out goodie bags with candy, snacks and thank you notes from the students to everyone who drove by.

"I just really feel like it's something important to do for our community, and we wanted to make sure we honor the veterans in some way, even in our crazy COVID world," Engler said.

Normally on Veterans Day, Cedar Hill has an assembly where veterans come in and eat doughnuts and the students perform songs, but the Jefferson City School District is not allowing outside visitors due to COVID-19.

Music teacher Chloe Phillips decided to plan this event so students and staff could still involve the community and show their appreciation. She also recorded students singing songs to send to parents.

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"It's important to thank our veterans for their service and to instill and teach the children why we're thankful and what the day is about," Phillips said. "Also, right now in this crazy COVID time, this is a great way for us to involve our community and reach out outside of our walls since we can't have anybody come in our walls this year."

As people drove by with tears in their eyes, Principal Stacy Fick wiped away her own tears and thought about her son who's in the military. She said she was pleased by the number of people who came to the parade.

"Seeing some tears from some of our veterans that are coming through makes me feel so glad that we did something," Fick said.

She said she helped plan this parade because it's important for the students to understand the value of honoring veterans for the sacrifices they've made to serve our country.

"I just think it's important to keep the kids understanding what it's really all about, and hearing them say, 'Thank you' and making signs, I think they get it," Fick said.

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