Millersburg Elementary students sing praises of local veterans

Millersburg Elementary students sing praises of local veterans
Dave Mast

The entire student body at Millersburg got involved with the celebration, including students who crafted colorful photos of various branches of the Armed Forces personnel that highlighted the stage. Behind the drawing sits many veterans and their children and grandchildren who invited them to the event.


Invitations went out far and wide recently when the students from Millersburg Elementary were encouraged to invite both family and friends who are currently serving or are veterans in the United States Armed Forces to join them at the Millersburg Elementary Veterans Day celebration on Friday, Nov. 10.

The entire school body and a whole bunch of veterans came together for the service, and the veterans were greeted by a cheering student body.

The highlight of the event featured the Millersburg fifth-grade students on stage singing a trio of songs including “America the Beautiful,” “Veterans We’re So Proud of You” and “My Country Tis of Thee,” in which the entire ensemble of more than 400 students belted out the time-honored favorite.

As part of the event, veteran Travis Hood and his children Sawyer and Deacon were invited to present the proper U.S. flag folding method, along with a description of each of the 13 folds that accompany the folding of the flag.

Following the display, Hood said to the students, “I hope that when any of you see the flag now, you’ll have a deeper and more appreciative understanding of what it represents.”

Another part of the event was allowing each of the veterans to come forward to the microphone and introduce themselves, the branch with which they served and when, and their children or grandchildren or in some cases neighbors who invited them to attend.

Millersburg Elementary music teacher Alex Looney said preparing the fifth-grade students for this event was both fun and challenging.

“This is the first time the fifth-graders have sung for Veterans Day, so I thought it would be good to showcase the older students while at the same time they could serve as role models for the younger students,” Looney said.

Each of the three fifth-grade classes worked with Looney throughout the first semester to learn the songs, and then the three classes combined for three practices leading up to the performance.

Looney said it was neat to see the kids improve and grow in confidence and said they did an incredible job including the grand finale with the entire student body singing as one.

“We never even rehearsed that,” Looney said. “I taught that to every class at some point this year, and we practiced the motions, but we never practiced it all together.”

In addition, the feeling that grew out of the song had more than a few veterans and teachers with teary eyes.

Looney said that song is a new one for music k-8, where they present new songs. He saw this one and knew he had to make it part of the program.

“It really speaks to how important veterans are and how much we appreciate them,” Looney said.

Veteran Vincent Todd, who served with the U.S. Army from 2000-12, said he was touched and inspired by the students’ performance and the invitation to be part of something this moving.

Todd chose to graduate from college before enlisting, graduating from Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana. He said he felt drawn to serve his country and noted these types of events are a powerful message to both veterans and students about the importance of honoring the nation’s veterans.

“This was a touching event, and I loved the music,” Todd said. “I think this is very important. It creates a different learning experience for the kids to understand what this country was built on. It’s built on the blood of all of us, and they can learn from that.”

The Millersburg Elementary principal said one thing that adds to the uniqueness of this event is they encourage students to reach out to veterans, whether it is a family member or simply someone they know well, to make each veteran feel special and to make the event as meaningful as possible.

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