Honoring Our Veterans Westerville city schools CELEBRATES VETERANS DAY 2023

Throughout the week, students, teachers and staff across Westerville City Schools have celebrated Veterans Day by honoring those who served with school displays, recognition events and other activities. School staff at several buildings welcomed veterans and families connected to the military for school-wide assemblies and class visits on Friday.

Last month, Westerville South High School's student council hosted a recognition dinner for members of Westerville VFW Post 7883. Veterans from all military branches who served in various military conflicts attended the dinner.

Here were some of schools’ efforts:

Care package project at Annehurst Elementary

With two students whose father is currently stationed in Kuwait with Army Field Support, the school community at Annehurst Elementary are showing their support by collecting goods and treats to send to the parent and his troop overseas. All students are writing notes to thank them for their service and music teacher Mary Rebekah Fortman is creating a virtual concert with recorded musical performances by students.

Second-grade teacher Abby DeChant organized the drive, inspired by one of her students whose father is deployed.

“With Veterans Day coming up, we thought a collection of needed items to ship to Kuwait would be a perfect way to let him and his troop know we are thinking of them and appreciate their service,” she said. “It’s been special to see Makaela so proud and excited as donations are being collected by our Annehurst staff, students and community.”

Tribute to veterans at Fouse Elementary

The entryway of Fouse Elementary features the school’s annual tribute to veterans, honoring those who have served or are currently serving related to students and staff.

At the center of the display: the book, America’s White Table, on top of a table covered in a white tablecloth with one meal setting. The white table serves as a symbol for and remembrance to service members fallen, missing or held captive in the line of duty.

Second-grade teacher Stephanie Sahr, who has 13 family members who served in the military, organized the display with second-grade teacher Melissa Borger.

Veterans Day recognition program at Hanby Elementary

The Hanby Elementary community honored those who served with an assembly that featured a performance from the Magnet choir, which features students from Hanby and Emerson elementaries. Several students shared the history of Veterans Day and recognized veterans and families connected to the military.

Veterans who attended the event also received hand-made cards by Hanby students, expressing their appreciation and gratitude.

Veterans Wall of Honor at Huber Ridge Elementary

The kindergarten students in Kathy Gauen's class at Huber Ridge Elementary created a Veterans Wall of Honor to celebrate and recognize family members who served in the military. The wall features 27 stars with the names of loved ones, which branch they served and their relationship to students.

Among the names on the wall: Corporal Ashley Walker, who was a student of Gauen’s 15 years ago and is currently serving in the U.S. Marine Corps in Japan.

“My students were fascinated when I told them she learned in the same room as them and also made cards for soldiers,” Gauen said.

In addition to the wall, students created cards for Walker and Rick Arreguin, a father of two Huber Ridge students, who is currently deployed.

MREs and patriotic caroling at Emerson Elementary

John Metzger, an U.S. Air Force veteran whose son is a second-grader, and U.S. Army Reserves Lt. Col. Ryan Watson, whose daughter is a third-grader, prepared Meals Ready-to-Eat (MRE) for Emerson Elementary students to sample.

Both, as well as Emerson Principal and veteran Chris Poynter, dressed in combat uniforms while preparing the self-contained meals and answering students’ questions. The meals included a variety of items such as an entree, side dish, crackers, peanut butter/cheese spread, dessert, and a heater to heat the main entree.

Emerson choir members also visited classrooms to perform patriotic songs during the day.

Veterans parade at Minerva France Elementary

Veterans, those in active duty and ROTC cadets from Otterbein University paraded through the hallways of Minerva France Elementary as part of the school’s Veterans Day recognition program.

Afterwards, the school hosted a reception for parade participants where they watched a video from Minerva France students expressing their thanks for their service.

Veterans Day assembly at Robert Frost Elementary

The Robert Frost Elementary community honored those who served with an assembly that featured student performances.

Students, teachers and staff welcomed families who are connected to the military during the event and celebrated them with a flag-raising ceremony.

Veterans visit, honored at Westerville North High School

Westerville North High School students in history teacher Ben Hartnell’s class connected with local veterans, learning more about their service and asking questions about Operation Desert Shield, Operation Desert Storm and other military campaigns. Veterans brought photos, videos, uniforms and other materials for students to see.

Hartnell and social studies teacher Jen Carlson organized an all-school assembly — the first since the pandemic — which featured performances by the school’s symphonic orchestra, choir and ASL students.

Students also read “In Flander's Fields,” a war poem by WWI physician and soldier John McCrae, and performed “Taps,” the revered bugle call played to remember those who gave their lives in the service of the United States. Veterans explained and demonstrated the significance of the 17-point folding of the U.S. flag.

Principal Kurt Yancey presented veterans in attendance with gifts as district leaders, including Superintendent Dr. Joe Clark, thanked them for their service.