Students and staff throughout the Mason City School District celebrated and honored Veterans with parades, letters, breakfasts, songs, and more on November 11.
Mason Early Childhood Center
MECC classrooms decorated their doors in plenty of red, white and blue to foster a patriotic community within their school. Phrases such as 'United we Learn,' 'America the Great' and 'We are Good Citizens' were sprawled across the doors along with student hand prints and pictures, stars galore, and American flags.
Students in MECC kindergarten teacher Michelle Hasting's frog class wrote letters to military members overseas. "My cousin in the Air Force is deployed right now in the UAB. I have had my students the past several years write letters and draw pictures to send to him or my cousin who is in the army," shared Hastings. "Just a couple weeks ago he sent me this really cool flag as a thank you, and it came with a certificate including a list of the missions they had carried the flag. I have waited to hang it up until right before the letters are sent!"
Western Row students in third grade teachers Kelly Gholz, Mindy Suer, Barb Marotta, and Amanda Savages' classrooms are also writing letters to veterans, as well as reading books on veterans, and discussing what makes a 'hero.'
"I asked the families in my classroom if they have a soldier who is currently serving in the military. As a class, I read a book about Veterans called Heroes in our Community. After reading the book we discussed qualities of heroes, and students came up with words like brave, courageous, kind, and caring," shared third grade teacher Gholz. "We then talked about the definition of a Veteran - someone who served in the military - and why it is important to remember and honor those people. That led to a discussion about the families we know who have had a relative or friend serve and who is currently serving."
This year Gholz's classroom wrote to two families, including one that is overseas and one that is in Hawaii. Last year Gholz's class wrote to a students' uncle, and when he came home, he brought a flag that was flown overseas and is still positioned in her class today.
"This is such an important part of our world, and I feel that it really helps if we can write to someone who the class knows. For the students who have family in the military it can be very scary, and writing to them and reaching out is a small way we can all say "Thank you!" for what they do everyday," added Gholz.
Marotta read the book Veterans: Heroes in Our Neighborhood to both her classes. "We also talked about character traits of Veterans and wrote letters to Veterans thanking them for their service, said Marotta.
Suer, who is Marotta's grade partner, spoke to her classes about her experience taking the Honor Flight with her father last year, and students in Savages' class read The Wall, wrote letters to veterans, and discussed why they are thankful for those who serve in our military.
MI held its tenth annual school-wide Veteran's Day Celebration sponsored by the MI PTO, along with its Veteran's Day Parade that traveled the route from the 56 cafeteria to the 45 gym. After MI staff and fifth grade students were seated, veterans entered into the gym as patriotic music filled the air and students cheered and waved flags.
Watch WLWT's coverage of the MI Veteran's Parade
"On Veteran's Day, many classrooms at MECC serve a breakfast and have students share writing, present a 'white table', and then share three words that express our gratitude towards veterans," shared fifth grade Team Infinity Language Arts and Social Studies teacher Amanda Schreiber. "We then hosted our annual parade through the hallways. This year, our culminating event was an assembly in the gym filled with songs and winning pieces of writing."
During the assembly, the MI choir, under the direction of Laura Dobrozsi, sung classic patriotic pieces including the Star Spangled Banner and America. The choir also sang a medley featuring all the official songs of the U.S. Armed Services, and asked for the men and women who served to stand when they heard the song representing their specific military branch. Navy veteran Sam Bangs, who has participated in seven MI Veteran's Day Assemblies with his grandchildren, read a poignant poem during the choir's performance.
Three students were selected to read their poems during the ceremony, including Noah Kelly's piece a Freedom isn't Free and Reagan Vestal's A Poem of Stars and Stripes. Kelly and Vestal were named runners-up in the fifth grade writing competition that was opened to any fifth grader, while Sydney Vargo's poem Because of Them was voted the best poem in the fifth grade.
Mason Middle School
MMS hosted a Veteran's Day Breakfast on November 10 for local veterans, many of whom are students' relatives. The breakfast entailed a full program of prayers, allegiance, remarks, songs and presentations given by MMS Builders Club members.
MMS eighth grader Rachel Cai gave the opening remarks to kick off the breakfast. "We celebrate Veterans Day because we honor the valuable people who did their part in helping to make the USA a better and safer place for us to live. Mason Middle School has organized a breakfast to have the opportunity to spend time with those men and women who have served in our armed forces around the world and we appreciate your joining us," shared Cai.
Following the welcome remarks, the eighth grade orchestra performed An Armed Forces Tribute, attendees stood and said the Pledge of Allegiance, and eighth grade choir members followed with a singing of the Star Spangled Banner.
To end the breakfast, eighth graders Niko DeAthos and Claire Davis played Taps to thank those for serving and attending the breakfast.
Mason High School
MHS students in World History classes collected supplies for soldiers serving overseas, while also collecting money to donate to Yellow Ribbon, from Monday October 31 to Veteran’s Day on November 11. Donations are accepted at the Yellow Ribbon Support Center in Cincinnati, and are then packaged and sent to soldiers and their units by dedicated, hardworking volunteers. The Center relies on cash contributions to pay for the shipping postage.
A few of the items on the Soldiers’ Wish List include entertainment items such as playing cards and books, food including peanut butter, granola bars and pretzels, and sanitary items like lotion, deodorant, and sunscreen.
Keith Maupin of the Yellow Ribbon Support Center, along with a local recruiter, will visit MHS on November 15 to speak to the students and thank them for the contributions, and then students will help load his van with the donations.
MHS Honors World History teacher Dan Broaddrick invited Mason resident Retired Lt. Colonel Richard "Rich" Easterly to speak to students on Veteran's Day. Easterly enlisted into the Air Force in 1973 and was commissioned in the United States Air Force as a 2nd Lieutenant through Officer Training School. He served during the Persian Gulf War and was part of Operation Desert Shield, later retiring from the Air Force in August of 1993 as a Lt. Col.