Staff dressed in festive sweaters and costumes as Christmas carols played over speakers at St. Clare School in Southwest Portland Dec. 18. Teachers exchanged schoolwork with students — wishing families a happy Christmas break. The event was the school’s last drive-through supply pickup parade of the year.

What began out of necessity for families to pick up and drop off schoolwork for their children has become a bright spot during this otherwise difficult time. During the COVID-19 pandemic, which has required students to spend much of their time learning from home, drive-through parades have been a chance for families to continue to foster a sense of community. Additionally, this venue has allowed for students and families to continue to participate in annual service opportunities, a hallmark of their St. Clare education, including food collection for the St. Vincent de Paul food pantry, a toy drive to support the KGW Great Toy Drive and a sock and glove drive for local veterans experiencing homelessness.

“While much has changed for the faculty, staff and children, these drive-through parades are a reminder that our community is strong and we are in this together,” said Eve McCarthy of the St. Clare staff.

Drive-through pickup opportunities have allowed St. Clare specialist teachers to be more innovative in their lesson planning. Physical education and art teachers send home supplies to allow for fun, creative lessons during synchronous classes, and the school librarian has facilitated a creative remote library checkout system for students.

“We are looking forward to returning more fully to the classroom,” said Chris Harris, principal at St. Clare. “As we continue to teach students both in person and remotely, we will keep supporting each other … and find creative and innovative ways to stay connected through this journey of the school year.”