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City schools pay tribute to vets past and present
Students at Clearview Early Learning Center watch as Staff Sgt. Thomas Spencer of the Martinsville-Henry County Honor Guard (left) and Spc. Chris Reynolds, who recently returned from a tour in Iraq, demonstrate the proper way to fold the American flag during a Veterans Day ceremony Monday morning. (Contributed photo)
Martinsville City Schools on Monday honored past and present members of the military for their service with a variety of observances for Veterans Day.
The day started with Albert Harris Elementary School’s annual Veterans Day ceremony, and ended with Martinsville High School’s Symphonic Band and Jazz Band performing a free veterans’ concert that evening.
At Albert Harris, just after the school day started, the entire school gathered quietly around the flagpole with school officials, local veterans and members of the Martinsville-Henry County Veterans Honor Guard to reflect and pay tribute. The students took an active role in the ceremony, with children leading the Pledge of Allegiance, singing the National Anthem, reading the poem “In Flanders Field,” and reading the government proclamation about the meaning of Veterans Day to the group. Students waved miniature flags donated by the Martinsville Exchange Club.
The ceremony at Albert Harris is an annual tradition to show appreciation and teach the children why it is important to honor veterans.
“We are reminded today of all our freedoms that we may take for granted, and today we honor those who fought to preserve those freedoms,” Principal Felicia Preston said during the ceremony.
At Clearview Early Learning Center, preschool students met several veterans and learned about the military, past and present. Army Spc. Chris Reynolds, who recently returned from Iraq and has a 4-year-old daughter at Clearview, was among them. After demonstrating to students the proper way to fold the American flag, he and Staff Sgt. Thomas Spencer of the Martinsville-Henry County Honor Guard talked to Kim Norris’s 4-year-old class about their service and showed them how to salute. Spencer served 25 years in the Army, including Vietnam. Norris also talked to her students about her father and grandfather’s service in World War II and World War I, respectively, and showed them artifacts and uniforms from their service.
Also speaking to students was veteran Kennedy Williams of Homer Dillard Post 78 of the American Legion, husband of Clearview Director Sheilah Williams. The children learned about the American flag and how it should never touch the ground or be flown below another flag. They also learned that two employees at their school are veterans: maintenance worker Linwood Clark, who served in the Air Force for seven years, and Head Start aide Terrie Spencer, who served in the Army for five years. Students gave the veterans cards and drawings they had made to show their appreciation.
Sheilah Williams said she hopes the event helps Clearview students “understand the importance of our military and the sacrifices they have made for our freedom. It’s so important to recognize their contributions.”
Hopefully the Veterans Day ceremony will help students gain a deeper understanding of why they say the Pledge of Allegiance every day at school as well, Williams said.
“We’re trying at a young age to start instilling that pride in America,” she said.
Martinsville Middle School honored six of its own Monday, presenting red, white and blue flowers to employees who are military veterans in front of an assembly of students during the lunch block. The teachers and staff each spoke briefly about their jobs in the military. Honored were sixth-grade science teacher Laurie Ashworth, in-school suspension teacher Sgt. Valerie Brooks, administrative assistant Arnetta Burnett, sixth-grade math teacher Randy Smith, and seventh-grade English teacher Trudey Sink. Alton Moore also is a veteran but was away on a school field trip.
“We are so very proud of our veterans. We always do something to recognize our veterans and let the students know who they are,” said MMS Principal Cynthia Tarpley. “It’s good for the kids to see that. They hear the word ‘veteran,’ but now they can connect it to someone they see every day.”
Hearing from veterans about their service also exposes students to a possible career option, Tarpley said.