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VIDEO: Nine Ways to Honor Our Veterans

November 11, 2015 

Arlington Heights, IL - Veterans Day in Arlington Heights School District 25 is a day that gives all our schools an opportunity to honor, show and give thanks to the veterans of the Arlington Heights community and to teach our students the significance of being a veteran. District 25’s nine schools took time today to do all of the above and more in different ways.

Thomas Middle School

The day’s celebration began at 7:00 am at Thomas Middle School, where an annual Veterans Day breakfast was held. No seats were left empty, as two times as many people as last year’s breakfast filled the Thomas commons. Principal Brian Kaye prepared a speech to honor the many veterans in attendance, and each veteran received a student decorated coffee mug with candy as a gesture of gratitude.

“Here at Thomas, we love to show our patriotism and in doing so we want to say thank you to those who have served our country.  We have so many friends and family members associated with Thomas that are currently serving the US or are veterans and we are excited to celebrate their service and commitment on this day.” – Principal Brian Kaye on Veterans Day

Windsor Elementary School

This was the eighth year of Windsor’s Veterans Day Breakfast, and the Wildcat community is proud to say that the celebration has grown exponentially. In year one, the breakfast hosted 12 veterans as compared to 43 veterans attending this morning. This breakfast took a community wide effort as the AHPD C.A.P. students and the Windsor Girl Scouts created decorations for breakfast tables, the Windsor Cub Scouts presented the colors during the flag ceremony, and fourth grade Wildcats performed patriotic songs under the direction of their music teacher Mrs. Camille Ziemann. This all culminated in the veterans being honored on the morning announcements, followed by a parade through the school.

“Every year we find that our annual Veteran's Day becomes bigger and better. We feel it is very important for our students to learn and understand how our veterans have helped us to be free. Our hope is for students to understand the sacrifices that veterans may have made when they were in the service.  This day reminds our students how important it is to choose to be kind to everyone.” – Principal Shelley Fabrizio.

Dryden Elementary School

Dryden held their first Veterans Day Breakfast and assembly, recognizing over 40 veterans from the Dryden community. They dressed their dolphin statue in patriotic colors and decorated the gym with classroom prepared, posters, expressing thanks. The young Dryden community color guard presented the American flag, and veterans were honored by individual students who took the microphone in front of the entire student body and announced the name and years each veteran served.

“Today’s celebration was a great way for students to meet, learn about and share their appreciation for those who actively served in some of the most significant events in our nation's history.” – Principal Akemi Sessler 

Ivy Hill Elementary 

Ivy Hill’s students saw Veterans Day as an opportunity to give gifts of thanks to the veterans at Edward Hines, Jr. Veterans Administration Hospital. Ivy Hill families donated comfort items such as clothing, washroom items, and games and activities for the hospital to use. Every student had a hand in the donation as students also wrote letters to be delivered to the Hines VA Hospital. The classrooms came down to the commons, one by one, to sort and box up the items.

“Veterans Day is an opportunity for us to show our appreciation to all those people who served our country. Taking an active role through our Eagles Support Our Veterans movement provided students an authentic way to give back to our heroes who inspire us every single day.” – Principal Scott Kaese

Olive-Mary Stitt Elementary 

The Olive Owls were encouraged to become more in touch with their roots this Veterans Day. The fifth grade students were asked to find a family member, neighbor, or family friend who is a veteran, and get to know them. The students gathered information about their veteran friend or family member and wrote descriptions on stars, which they decorated in a patriotic way and displayed in the hallways. Students in the Owl Service Learning Club will decorate over 600 letters and cards written by the entire Owl student body for veterans and will send them off to Operation Gratitude.

“Our OMS community feels strongly about recognizing Veterans Day as a way to honor the men and women who served and continue to serve our country.” – Associate Principal Erin Davis

Greenbrier Elementary 

At Greenbrier, students gave a touch of thanks with their hands as buddy classes teamed up to create American flags that were displayed in the commons by tracing and cutting out their hands as the stripes and stars. These flags thanked the veterans for their service and honored this great day. The first grade Gators cut and decorated military uniforms for paper dolls to help the students better understand the different branches of the military and what the different uniforms look like. Other students worked on a comprehension activity about Veteran’s day, creating a book with facts of what they learned.

“It is important for students to understand that not everyone has the freedoms we do. Veteran’s Day is one day set aside to recognize the men and women that protect and preserve those freedoms. Thank you veterans!” – Principal Donna Bingaman

Patton Elementary

Patton’s morning was filled with first hand knowledge and pride as United States Army, CBRN (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear) Specialist Natalie Koffarnus spoke with the Panther students about the history of Veterans Day. The fourth and fifth grade students not only had thank you notes prepared to hand to the Veterans who were in attendance but they delivered a patriotic song with their voice and their hands, using sign language. The Arlingtones Barbershop Chorus sang patriotic songs throughout the morning as well 

“At Patton we feel it is important to instill a sense of pride in our school community. We feel the best way to do that is to honor those of the past and present so we can inspire those who will serve in the future.” – Principal Eric Larson

Westgate Elementary

Westgate Wolverine students artistically displayed their gratitude on Veterans Day with colorful cup art on the front yard fence. Arlington Heights Mayor Tom Hayes popped in to receive thanks as well for his service. Students wore red, white and blue and listed to military themed music at the beginning and end of the day.

“Honoring the men and women serving this country is an important act for all Americans.  Children, especially, need to learn the sacrifices others make to ensure our freedoms and liberties.” – Principal Caz Badynee

South Middle School

South Middle School collaborated on a thank you video that captured both students and veterans from the community to be shown to a veterans group in Skokie, Illinois. The students wrote thank you letters and cards and posted them on a bulletin board that honored the veterans in their community. The cards and letters will be sent to one of the A Million Thanks Campaign locations.

“Veterans Day can often fall by the wayside amongst the daily hustle and bustle, and our goal is to help our students stop, reflect, and recognize the importance of honoring veterans, who help to serve and protect our country everyday. Veterans Day offers us an opportunity as a school to publicly thank community veterans for their service.” – Principal Piper Boston

Veterans Day was embraced by all schools in District 25 as an opportunity to honor and give thanks, but also as a day to teach students about the dedication and pride each veteran has for their country. All District 25 students, staff members and community members who participated in classroom projects, artwork, letters and assemblies were touched by this day. Veterans themselves expressed their gratitude for being honored, but it really is us who owe them major thanks.

Adam Harris