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11-11-21 — Students Honor Service Members on Veterans Day

Nov. 11, 2021 ~ The National Anthem rang through hallways throughout the district, American flags lined the walkway to schools and students dressed in their red, white and blue clothing to set the mood for a patriotic celebration in Olathe Public Schools on Veterans Day. Students from elementary school through high school honored our service men and women by inviting veterans to take part in assemblies, share their stories in panel discussions and be recognized for their military service throughout the community.

At Ridgeview Elementary School, students and staff began their Veterans Day events in the days leading up to the national celebration. Students participated in a program called “Service for Service members” where all classes wrote thank you notes and designed encouraging posters for a local VFW chapter. In addition, two veterans from the Lenexa VFW chapter, David DeWitt and Bruce Fischbach, stopped by third, fourth and fifth grade classrooms to share their experiences with students and answer questions students had prepared to learn more about their service to the country.

“It was a wonderful opportunity to have the two veterans share their experiences and to also share about the importance of the armed forces and of organizations like the VFW,” said Natalie Crow, fifth grade teacher at Ridgeview Elementary. “The students were able to have an authentic learning experience about a holiday happening this week! We researched what Veterans Day was, but having the opportunity to hear about it firsthand, to ask questions, and to see its impact is invaluable. I overheard one of my students saying after the presentation, ‘I want to be in the army to...what did he say? To give back.’ It made my heart so happy to hear that what the student got from the presentation was the importance of service.”

Briarwood Elementary also celebrated our nation’s veterans through acts of service in the community. Briarwood fifth graders started their morning at HyVee to help serve a special Veterans Day breakfast. They assisted in all parts of the morning event, from helping veterans to their tables, cleaning/busing tables and speaking with veterans while they enjoyed their meal. Students were especially excited to meet a World War II veteran who attended the honorary breakfast, as well as ask him questions about his experience in the war.

At Olathe West High School, the school’s Rho Kappa Society hosted a Veterans Panel featuring service men and women from multiple branches of service including the U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force. U.S Marine Corp National Guard, U.S. Navy and the Kansas National Guard and Missouri Army Reserves. The school also featured a wall of honor, which included staff members and family of staff members who have served, as well as an Olathe West alumnus currently serving.

Across the district, several schools hosted building-wide assemblies featuring musical performances by students singing or playing patriotic songs, special guest speakers, parades featuring patriotic signs designed by students and more.

“The Veterans Day celebration is an important tradition in the Tomahawk community,” said Julia Baucum, Tomahawk Elementary School principal. “During this week we teach about the different branches of military and teach the meaning and importance of Veterans Day. It truly is a community event, where we celebrate veterans that are special to families of our students. All families are invited to attend the parade, and we celebrate and honor the veterans together as a community.”

Check out the photo gallery below for a glimpse into the celebrations that took place districtwide.