Veterans honored across school district
November 13, 2012
Across the Park City School District, students were celebrating Veteran’s Day, hosting assemblies and concerts to honor those who served in the military. McPolin Elementary and Treasure Mountain Junior High schools held assemblies. Jeremy Ranch and Trailside Elementary schools held annual concerts.
Though the federal holiday may not mean a day off from school, students were ready to honor the occasion.
Every grade level at Trailside Elementary School sang a song for veterans during their concert, and children and grandchildren attending the school introduced the veterans in the crowd.
"I think with students when we are teaching the songs, we also teach the history," said Trailside Elementary School Principal Kathy Einhorn. "Before they are even taught the songs, they talk about the history of music. This concert, it is as much about teaching history and American culture as honoring veterans."
At Jeremy Ranch Elementary School, fifth graders held an assembly where veterans were invited to hear a patriotic-themed concert. And it was the most popular year for the event, said music teacher Mary Morgan, who organized the event.
"This is the largest the event has ever been," Morgan said.
"It is so important that children understand the meaning of living in a free country," she added, "respecting the past and present military personnel. And it is also important that kids and know the basic patriotic songs, the Star-Spangled Banner, My Country Tis’ of Thee, Yankee Doodle, Amazing Grace."
Students took the lead, suggesting making silk flowers for attending veterans, creating scripts filled with historical notes and facts to accompany the songs, creating banners and props on their lunch and recess breaks.
For one song, students created states out of cardstock.
"Students chose to do this on their own time, and every student did it," Morgan said. "In fifth grade this is huge, giving up recess to come into my room to make these banners to hang up in the gym."
Roughly 40 veterans attended, each taking a silk flower until each flower was gone. From the Vietnam to Afghanistan conflicts, the event drew a wide swath of retired and active duty military members. Even a retired bomb sniffing dog, Uzo, attended.
Retired Army Maj. Kris Smith, who has two children currently attending the school, was there to see the performances. Serving several overseas assignments, Smith has spent most of his adult life in tight-knit military communities but made the move to Park City for his children after he left the Army.
"The fact that this community is so isolated from any major military instillation, it is wonderful to get a positive response, not only from the kids, but also the parents and staff. And you have to imagine that is foreign to a lot of us, people who spend years in military communities."
"I think it makes huge impact when show we up in uniform," he added. "Children really pay attention to the fact you are in uniform, and it puts a name and face to the stories they are being told."
Throughout the concert, students craned to see the veterans who had come. Afterward, they approached those in uniform, shaking hands and asking questions such as where they served and what they did.
"I heard one younger student ask if we are the guys that saved the world," Smith said, "which I thought was great. These kids, they really put their hearts into it, and we appreciate it."