Indian Lake Elementary students lined the halls Nov. 10 to offer several local veterans the highest honor they give as a student body. This was the first year for the Veteran Clap Around during the Veterans Day Recognition event at ILES. It was similar to a “clap out,” normally reserved for graduating seniors and fourth graders on the last day of school. The veterans gave high-fives and shook hands with students while walking around the center of the school. A few even shed some tears.
Veterans were then invited for a reception in the cafeteria so students and staff could continue to offer thanks for their service and sacrifice. The cafeteria was decorated with pictures of veterans that students brought in. They also received cards and letters the students created earlier this week.
Army Special Forces veteran Donald T. Willis, who recently moved to the area, was delighted with the event. He said, “I’m so glad to be here. It’s my new mission in life help kids make dreams come true.”
ILES Counselor Suzy Mallory helped organize the event, along with several staff and members of the Huntsville American Legion Auxiliary. Mallory says, “We feel this is something our students need to understand and appreciate. Veterans cannot be thanked enough.” Prior to the Clap Around, veterans in attendance joined fourth graders and members of the Huntsville American Legion Auxiliary outside for a flag raising, singing of the National Anthem and Pledge of Allegiance. Indian Lake students 8th grader Layla Yoakam, 7th grader Libby Yoakam and 4th grader Lacey Yoakam were brought to tears during the event by a surprise visit from their cousin, Tony Whitt, whom they consider more like a brother. They didn’t know Whitt was coming home on leave from the Army, where is stationed at Ft. Hood. “We were all shocked and happy to see him, ” Layla said. “We really look up to him.”
Submitted by the Indian Lake school district.