By Nick Archacki, Managing Editor
Every November, Americans celebrate those who have served our country. We perform this duty to honor these brave men and women by thanking them for defending our country and dedicating a portion of their lives to the United States military.
On Monday, Nov. 11, the Saegertown schools held an annual assembly to honor veterans and active-duty military members from the community. The assembly, organized by Saegertown Elementary’s music teacher Jason Ashbaugh, brought together musicians from grades 5-12 to sing “A Tribute to the Armed Forces” and “A Song for the Unsung Hero,” and to provide each guest a small gift in recognition of their service.
The gym was filled to capacity with students from K-12, veterans, and their families. An honor guard from Saegertown Memorial Post 205 presented the colors of the United States flag to start the ceremony. Then, the chamber singers sang “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and the Boy Scouts of Saegertown Troop 254 led everyone in attendance in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Seven speakers shared what service means to them and their families. Senior Theo Smith spoke about his father who is active duty Army, and sophomore Melissa Clayton paid tribute to her mother Donna, who has served for many years in the Army reserves. Senior Kaitlyn Kozalla, who has enlisted in the Navy and will leave in July 2020, talked about being inspired to serve by her grandfather. “I felt honored to be surrounded by so many veterans,” Kozalla said. “After the assembly, several veterans wished me luck. That gave me a sense of pride.” Other speakers included school board member and Navy veteran Jeff Brooks, along with military moms Stacey Hetrick and Michele Johnston. Dan Cole, commander of American Legion Post 205, finished the speaking portion of the event by sharing his experiences in the Air Force.
After the musical salute to each branch of the service, the veterans were invited to come forward and receive a piece of a commemorative mosaic created by elementary teacher Rose Baker. This year’s piece featured a bald eagle looking into the distance with an American flag behind it. “So many veterans thank me for creating this art,” Baker said. “Many of them have a piece from each of the six years we have done this project.” Mr. Ashbaugh noted that the magnets on the back of each mosaic piece also symbolically represent how the sacrifices of military families help hold the country together.
Assistant Principal Kylene Koper was pleased to host this event. “I’m happy that the student body got involved in the assembly, from the kids making cards for the Wall of Thanks to the choirs performing,” Koper said. “I thought the assembly went really well, and I felt like it was a great way to honor veterans and their family members. The assembly has continued to grow and I’m pleased with how it has become bigger over the past two years that it has been at SHS.”
Journalism Adviser, Saegertown Jr. Sr. High School