Veteran's Day 2018

New Student Groups Take Action this Veteran's Day
Posted on 11/16/2018
This is the image for the news article titled New Student Groups Take Action this Veteran's Day

Veteran's Day program at East and West high schoolsVeteran’s Day gave two new student groups at the high school an opportunity to shine, but most importantly, do what they set out to do this school year: honor our local veterans.

Although the recent Tri-State Honor Flight brought the Patriotic Firebirds and East Veterans Network together in a unique way last month, both groups are forging their own path. Even just a few months after their inception, both have several impactful programs underway, not to mention even bigger plans for the future.

Lakota West secretary Kristin Henley started the student group at West that has grown to about 15 members so far. With a son who recently graduated and joined the military, her main inspiration comes from past Firebirds currently serving our country as well as those students with loved ones in the military.

“They don’t always get the support they need from family, so I decided it was important to support them in a way that we could as a Firebird family,” Henley said. “Especially for those committing to the military, I don’t want them to leave the nest without knowing they have a safe place to fall again and a group of people that loves and supports them.”

That outlook explains the hundreds of letters and care packages the group has sent to active military, in addition to gift cards they have gifted to family members at home. In observance of Veteran’s Day, the group hosted a breakfast for veterans and their families in partnership with Texas Roadhouse. The program included a special presentation by West choir singers.

The group is also planning to support a literacy program of the United Service Organization that provides a book to both the person on active duty and his/her child so they night read it together.

Veteran’s Day at Lakota East was marked by a three-year student-led tradition that the new Veterans Network helped amplify this year. The program invites veterans and their families to parade down Main Street following a breakfast and program that features student speeches and performances by the band and choir.

This year, the student group helped organize a video presentation featuring three of the 50-plus veterans being honored. It was shown to all students before they gathered on Main Street for the fanfare. “It means a lot to them to know that high school students want to give them the thanks they deserve,” said instructional aide and group advisor Sally Barker. “The video really helped set up the parade and show students its significance.”

East senior Grace Keith, who has had aspirations to join the military since junior school, has been laying the framework for the new club the last two years.

“Combining my values with my future goals has led me to have this passion for serving those who have served us,” Grace said. “They have earned it, and anything I can do to repay just a small part of the sacrifices they have made for our nation is something I want to do.”

The group presented the first-ever 22 Push-Up Challenge at the school’s fall pep rally, inviting all student-athletes to do 22 push-ups in honor of the 22 veterans who commit suicide every day. In addition to a school-wide “Stocking for Soldiers” effort, they also had a presence at the East Craft Show. “We weren’t selling anything,” Barker said. “It was more about getting out in front of the community and letting them know what we’re all about.”

Next up is “Valentines for Veterans”, a spring bicycle ride, Lakota’s Military Commitment Ceremony and of course, the Honor Flight tradition they hope to continue for many years to come.

“When I started the club, I wasn't sure what the reception would be,” Grace said. “But to see not only the school, but the community, getting involved and excited about the club is very exciting.”

Through meals, assemblies and special presentations, schools district-wide found unique ways to honor our local veterans this Veteran’s Day. At Freedom, for example, the student who raises and lowers the flag each day partnered with local boy scout troops to perform a respectful flag retirement ceremony. He captured the ceremony on video to share at his school’s Veteran’s Day assembly, which honored local veterans through song.