A Day of Tribute: HCPS Students Honor America’s Veterans

group of 2nd graders standing outside in cemetery with veteran

In honor of the men and women who served in the United States Armed Forces, students from across Henderson County learned some valuable lessons this week about service, sacrifice, inclusion, and love of country.

For Hendersonville Elementary 2nd grader, Ben Pryor, the lessons made a deep impact.

2nd grader Siona Hayes reads the inscription of a Veteran's gravesite

“I have learned what a veteran is this week,” he said. “They’re people who fight for our country, for our rights, and for our freedom.”

Under clear blue skies and the last hint of autumn air on Wednesday, Pryor and his fellow classmates walked in unison as they carried American flags to place on the graves of local veterans buried at the nearby historic city cemetery, Oakdale Cemetery.

“I know this one is a veteran because we learned to look for (the inscription) on the stone,” said 2nd grader Siona Hayes.

On Nov. 11, Americans pause to reflect and honor the 19 million veterans who have served in the U.S. military, a tradition that has lasted for nearly 70 years. “It’s a day of reflection and it’s a day that we honor all veterans past and present, those that currently serve and those who have served,” said Kim Henderson, principal at Hendersonville Elementary.

high school students in color guard present flags for elementary school assembly

Students and staff in Henderson County Public Schools (HCPS) have spent the abbreviated week observing Thursday’s holiday with a myriad of activities ranging from designing bulletin boards that feature family veterans, hosting luncheons and writing thank you letters to veterans in the community, reading books, writing poems, and honoring fallen veterans with flags and songs.

On Monday, students at Apple Valley Middle placed flags bearing the names of area veterans along the driveway leading up to the school, and all week long 8th graders heard firsthand accounts from local veterans as part of their social studies lessons.

student outside reading poem with grandparents in military uniform standing behind

On Wednesday, Edneyville Elementary School had a full day of activities for students and local veterans, including a luncheon and program that included the Presentation of Colors by North Henderson High’s JROTC and a check presentation to Blue Ridge Honor Flight – which funds a veteran’s trip to Washington D.C.

East Henderson High also raised money for Blue Ridge Honor Flight, and schools across the district like Bruce Drysdale and Mills River elementaries wore red, white, and blue to show their patriotism.

At Oakdale Cemetery on Wednesday, local resident and U.S. Army Veteran Sgt. Glen Fadden spoke to students about the importance of honoring veterans because of “what they’ve done for this country and the respect that it deserves.”

Fadden, along with Army Staff Sgt. Jim Poore and Army Spc. Angie Poore, accompanied the students as they looked for the graves of fallen veterans. Fadden then closed out Wednesday’s morning ceremony by playing “Taps” as the students listened and reflected on all that they had learned throughout the week.

At Etowah Elementary School, the Veterans Day lessons were all about inclusion and finding meaning behind the phrase, ‘love of country.’

four students practicing sign language inside classroom

Throughout the month of November, which is Veterans History Awareness Month in North Carolina, every student at Etowah is learning how to sing America the Beautiful in sign language.

“We have kids here who are blind or deaf,” explained 2nd grader Henry Harris. “We learned the song so they can understand it and be included.” Classmate Alberto Cruz-Salines added, “It’s important to learn this song because we love our country.”

Through the Medal of Honor Character Development Program, Etowah’s entire student body focuses on traits like commitment, integrity, sacrifice, citizenship, and patriotism, and studies a new song each month that incorporates these lessons, explained Etowah’s music and art teacher Kim Jacklin.

“Here at Etowah, we try to teach patriotism to the students in a lot of what we do every day,” she said.

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This page was last modified by Molly McGowan-Gorsuch on Nov 10, 2021 @ 8:48 pm