Teachers, students, and speakers honor local vets –
Story and photos by Patricia Beech and Mark Carpenter –
Staff and students from all the county school districts last week celebrated Veterans Day, honoring those who have served and are currently serving in the Armed Forces, with programs at the high schools and elementary schools, as well as the Adams County Christian School.
The programs featured assemblies, the presentation of the flags, a variety of speakers, and patriotic musical selections, and other activities designed to honor those who have served.
Attending veterans, representing all the branches of military service, were individually recognized during the programs for their contributions and sacrifices.
At Manchester, the ceremonies opened with the MHS band playing a stirring tribute to honor those who have fallen, followed by the National Anthem and the Pledge of Allegiance led by a trio of elementary students.
The featured speaker at Manchester was MLSD Superintendent Brian Rau, himself a Navy veteran. A number of Rau’s family members who had also served were in attendance, a family with a strong military tradition. Rau spoke to the students and staff assembled about “real heroes” and as an example told the sometimes graphic World War II stories of his grandfather Eugene Rau, who lived to be 101 years old.
A number of the elementary schools in the county continued a tradition of the “Veterans Parade” in their buildings-where the students line the hallways and greet the veterans marching through with smiles, handshakes, and high-fives.
West Union High School Social Studies teacher Megan McCarty, who spearheaded the event at WUHS, said planning for the program began in September.
“We’ve been doing it long enough that most of the staff know what is expected of them,” she says. ”We all pull together and help each other out to make it happen.”
McCarty says the celebrations serve a two-fold purpose.
“By honoring our veterans we teach our students that it’s not just another day off school,” she says. “We want them to understand the meaning behind the day, and to learn to value and respect past and current military members.”
The schools’ bands and choirs performed several patriotic melodies, while students read poems and essays honoring those in military service past and present.
Steve Appelman, principal at Peebles High School, says he believes the programs are a valuable tool for teaching students about the importance of remembering the sacrifices that have been made to ensure our freedom.
“Sometimes in our society, we fail to recognize the contributions of those who came before us, and it’s so important to remember – especially our veterans – we can’t even imagine what they’ve gone through and what they’ve done so that we can pursue the lives we want to lead,” Appelman says. “We’re trying to provide an education for our kids, and this is part of it – showing them what these men and women have done and honoring what they’ve done – when they see that it has a lot more meaning for them.”