The Viewpoint: Norfolk Area Schools Listed for Recognition Honoring Veterans
LINCOLN – More than 220 individual schools and school districts from across the state, including schools in Madison County: Battle Creek Public Schools, Newman Grove Schools, Norfolk High School, Norfolk Jr. High School, have received special certificates from Secretary of State John Gale recognizing their efforts to honor military veterans. Participants included preschool, elementary, middle and high school students of public and nonpublic schools.
“I have actively encouraged schools to honor veterans for eight years, by hosting programs and speakers on or near Veterans Day, but I believe this is the largest number of schools that my office has ever recognized at one time,” said Gale.
In addition to performances by school groups, the variety of programs included breakfasts and luncheons for veterans and their families, special displays featuring photos of veterans, flag retirement ceremonies and the presentation of quilts to military members or relatives.
“The heartening thing is that some schools are expanding their activities beyond just Veterans Day,” said Gale. “For example, at Ralston Middle School, students collected toiletries for veterans, which were donated to the Siena Francis House in Omaha. In Gering, students at Lincoln Elementary launched a program in which they adopted a former student who is deployed with whom to correspond throughout the year.”
Gale said the value of such programs is that they have a lasting impact, both on veterans and the students who take part.
“It is important for students to understand the sacrifices of retired and active military members, as well as their families. They may not realize just how many classmates have family members who are deployed, until an event like this comes up.”
Gale got the idea to honor schools back in 2008, when he attended a middle school program in Grand Island. In addition to veterans and military members, notable speakers at schools this year included: U.S. Senator Deb Fischer, U.S. Senator Ben Sasse, Lt. Governor Mike Foley, U.S Representative Jeff Fortenberry, U.S Representative Adrian Smith and Adjutant General Daryl Bohac of the Nebraska National Guard.
Some of the unique activities that schools reported to Sec. Gale included:
A soldier who recently returned from Afghanistan and presented Central Elementary School in McCook with a flag that he carried aboard the Blackhawk helicopter on which he served.
Students at Brownell Talbot who held a mock draft as part of a lesson on soldiers who served in Vietnam.
A former graduate of Pender High School who told students about his role as a guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery.
A video featuring 8th graders at Ainsworth Schools who had adopted local veterans and did special projects for them throughout the year.
A soldier and former Alliance High School graduate who addressed students while deployed, via Skype.
“I applaud the students, educators and staff members who work so hard to put these events together,” Gale added. “It reinforces the importance of community ties and civic engagement in a way that is very interactive and hands-on.”
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