Local school districts took the time on Wednesday to honor veterans with several programs throughout the day.
Beginning before 8 a.m., Miami Trace High School hosted veterans for a free breakfast served by the government class. Breakfast included eggs, hash browns and more, with several dozen veterans visiting for the meal. Immediately following the meal, they were asked to join the student body for a special Veterans Day assembly, a mostly student-led program that honors local veterans.
The program started with a performance by the symphonic band, and an introduction and names were read aloud of multiple veterans who graduated or studied at Miami Trace. Ed Helt then took to the podium to announce the winners of the annual Americanism and Government Test. Six students, a boy and girl from the sophomore, junior and senior classes, were congratulated with plaques and gift cards for McDonald’s, which included recognition for not only holding the highest test scores in their school and grade, but also in the county. These students were sophomores Ragan Powers and Dylan Page, juniors Bradleigh Justice and Todd Peterson, and seniors Madisyn Callahan and Riley Evans. Evans was honored further by being recognized for achieving the highest score in the county this year.
Each year the students leading the program select a veteran, whom they interview, to share with the student body. The veteran this year was Michael Smith. Smith was born Nov. 30, 1948 and is a Washington Court House native. He graduated from Washington High School and began a college career at Ohio State University. After just a little time in college, he felt the need to serve in the U.S. Army. In July of 1968 he enlisted and shortly after training he, along with comrades, were shipped off to South Vietnam.
Throughout his time, Smith experienced many hardships, including bitter cold nights and hot days, but he continued to serve. One particularly bad memory was when he and his comrades chased after a few Vietnamese soldiers, just to see his leader and friend, Bob, shot down by the enemy. Despite the rough months in Vietnam, Smith said he is glad he served. He encouraged students who feel a similar calling to follow it, because America always has a need.
Principal Rob Enochs concluded the program with a round of thanks to the staff, students and veterans who took time to come and watch the presentation.
At 10:45 a.m., the Fayette Christian School (FCS) hosted Helt and two other guests from the American Legion Post 25. The short service included a prayer for veterans as well as an introduction of the first six students to win the Americanism Test for the FCS, as this was the first time the school has participated in the test. After, the students took time to shake guests’ hands and thank them for their service and time.
The students claiming the high scores were sophomores Aaron Turner and Summer Hurles, juniors Tim Kinzler and Lizzie Garren and seniors Hayden Hufford and Cassandra Miller. These students also received a plaque and a gift card to McDonald’s.
At about 1:30 p.m., veterans joined Washington High School for its Veterans Day program. The program began with a welcome by assistant principal Jon Hemmelgarn and the presentation of colors by American Legion Post 25. After the pledge of allegiance and a performance of the “Star-Spangled Banner,” Helt then named the Americanism Test winners for Washington High School, which included sophomores Jonathon Luebbe and Miracle Newman, juniors Liam Downing and Sarah Snyder and seniors Tyler Hoosier and Wendy Hawk.
The Buckeye Boys’ and Girls’ State participants were also recognized during the program. These students were Brody Morris, Connor Shackelford, Jakob Snyder, Cammi Borden and Brooklyn Wilson.
A video by Nick Geruntino and his AP government class was shown and it highlighted several veterans and the work of the Fayette County Veterans Service Center. The class interviewed several members of the center and asked them what they thought about the services offered and had them give some advice to veterans considering using the center. A special presentation by senior class president Brooklyn Wilson ended with an award honoring veterans for all of their work and service. Finally, with a playing of Taps and a few closing remarks, the crowd was dismissed.
Some of the veterans voiced their pleasure with the various programs throughout the day, and said they were glad to be honored by so many in the county. Remember to thank the veterans in your life each and every day.
Reach Martin Graham at (740) 313-0351 or on Twitter @MartiTheNewsGuy