Buckeye Valley Middle School will honor veterans of the United States military on Thursday, Nov. 12.
At 8:30 a.m., veterans will be greeted by students with carnations and ribbons. They will be treated to a light breakfast before joining the students in the school gymnasium for an assembly.
The school has its service the day after Nov. 11 so it doesn’t conflict with other Veterans Day events.
Last year, as 75 veterans filed into the assembly, they were greeted by a standing ovation that lasted nearly 10 minutes.
During the assembly, veterans and various members of the community will address the audience. The school band and choir will also perform the songs of each of the five branches of the military.
After the assembly, veterans are welcome to visit classrooms and to talk with students, organizers say. As they walk through the school, veterans will see that the walls are covered with hand-drawn posters and notes of thanks.
Tina Francis, who teaches career-based instruction at BVMS through the Delaware Area Career Center, has been in charge of the school’s Veterans Day celebrations for the past four years. A veteran of the Army Reserve herself, she knows how important this day is for veterans and for the students.
Francis said that involving her students in the Veterans Day preparations reinforces what she is trying to teach them. “If I’m teaching these kids about service learning and empathy and responsibility, then what better way than to have them be in charge [of the celebration],” she said.
Francis said that, for the veterans, “I think it’s important because it’s a long overdue recognition.” She recalled one veteran who had shared memories of being greeted with jeers and spit when he returned from Vietnam. This veteran had tears in his eyes when he looked out at the students who were standing and clapping to show their appreciation for his service.
Another important reason for bringing the veterans into the school, according to Francis, is “I think that if we don’t do this, little by little, we’re going to lose a little bit of our history.” She said that, after talking with veterans, the students can better understand the importance of what they learn in history class because they “have more of an emotional connection” to the material.
All veterans, including veterans outside of the Buckeye Valley School District, are welcome to attend the celebration, organizers say. Veterans are asked to RSVP, if possible, to [email protected] or by calling 740-363-8325.
“The more the merrier,” said Francis of her hope to exceed last year’s record of 75 veterans. Despite the work involved in coordinating the celebration and the fact that Francis starts “planning for the next year the day after the assembly,” Francis said that she and her students “love to do the work” and that she is “thankful that this community embraces this.”
Megan Neary can be reached at [email protected]