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On Friday, November 10th, our seventh and eighth grade students invited the student body to join them in honoring veterans. The program stemmed from an idea from Mrs. Denise Schmidle, who teaches middle school math and is the seventh grade homeroom teacher. Each class leads a "class chapel" every school year, and she saw this as an opportunity to take the students' class chapel and expand it into a meaningful experience for both WCS students and the veterans in their lives. The students in seventh and eighth grade were involved in the project from start to finish, including planning, set up, cooking, and clean up.
The special morning, which was attended by over 30 veterans, began with a breakfast that had been set up and prepared by students. Veterans and their families enjoyed food and fellowship time in the gym. Outside, the hallway had been lined with notes and pictures from students in all grades, honoring their heroes who had served, or are currently serving, in the military. After the breakfast, students lined the hallway to wave at, clap for, and high-five veterans as they made their way to the Santuary for the program.
The program started with a welcome and prayer, then our middle school band performed Yankee Spirit March. Next was a slideshow, which showed each WCS student's photo and his or her answer to the question, "What do you love about America?" The answers ranged from humorous to heartwarming. Members of the American Legion (Mr. Otis Mekoleske, Mr. Cy Schrock, and Mr. Bob Wiles) performed the Posting of Colors. Student Council President Anna Yoder led the group in saying the Pledge of Allegiance, then the National Anthem and God Bless America were sung. Another video was played, this one a tribute to all the veterans in attendance, followed by an "Armed Forces Medley" video which invited service members to stand while their branch's song was played. Special guest speaker, Mr. Orrin Morris, gave heartfelt insight into his experience as a Vietnam War veteran. A moment of silence followed, with Taps performed by Mr. Eric Larson. The American Legion members performed the Flag Folding Ceremony as middle school students shared information on the meaning behind each fold, and then the Retiring of Colors was performed.
Following the program, U.S. Army veteran and WCS parent Mr. Jason Winkleman set up an interactive display of military uniforms and artifacts for the students to experience.
"The students are already asking if we can do this again next year," Mrs. Schmidle said. Her leadership and the students' hard work gave the student body a unique Veterans Day learning experience and an opportunity to express their gratitude to our veterans.