Lake Stevens High School student Kaitlyn Perry chatting with Veterans prior to the assembly
at Lake Stevens High School last week.
It comes just once a year but when Veterans Day is here Lake Stevens knows how to honor and appreciate their local veterans from all arms of the military.
On Tuesday, Nov. 10, veterans in Lake Stevens were invited to Lake Stevens High School by personal invitation, to enjoy a continental breakfast and a celebration to recognize their service.
“It began with the mailing of over 300 invitations to local veterans to join students for celebration and recognition,” Arlene Hulten, Director of Community Relations for the Lake Stevens School District said. “Over 50 veterans filed in, many wearing their military hat that remains from their years of service. Every service area was represented by the men and women in attendance– Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard.”
Joe Cronin’s Leadership class at the high school produced the entire event, something they look forward to every year.
“Inviting and having the veterans at our assembly puts a face and/or a story to all of the history they have heard about. In American History classes, students learn about WWII or Vietnam, but now they are speaking with someone who was actually there in battle,” Cronin said. “It really is amazing to see the students connect with them. It is a really special day for everybody.”
The servicemen enjoyed it too.
“It was a wonderful program. It was very nice of the students to come down and say ‘hi’,” George Thorleifson, U.S. Navy, WWII said. “I am glad the high school does this. Students need to know about Veterans Day and to understand the things veterans did and the many sacrifices that all veterans made.”
The Lake Stevens Jubilation Choir, directed by Rochelle Hickman, performed the Star-Spangled Banner and guest speaker, Marcus Tageant, a 1990 LSHS graduate who served with the Marines in the first Gulf War, shared historical information about how Armistice Day began in 1938 and was changed by Congress in 1954 to Veterans Day, to honor all wars and all who have served their country. He also shared his feelings about landing in Saudi Arabia as a Marine fresh out of Boot Camp and preparing to go to Iraq to serve in Operation Desert Storm.
Veterans were also each given the opportunity to introduce themselves. Among them were 11 LSHS staff members.
“Each visiting veteran introduced themselves along with their rank and/or a story about their experiences in the military. After the veterans were finished with their introductions the entire student body gave a standing ovation for all the veterans, which lasted more than 30 seconds,” Cronin said. “As the cheering grew louder and louder the veterans stood up and clapped for the students to thank them. It really was special and brought tears to the eyes of many students, staff, and veterans. It was a special connection that took place and was completely unexpected. It shows what an outstanding group of students we have at LSHS and how much they respect the veterans.”
“I was really impressed with how the high school handled the whole spectrum of veterans’ history with the video depicting the different wars. They were very accurate and showed the whole history without changing or leaving out anything,” Ray Henderson, U.S. Marine Corps, World War II said. “It was very gracious of the students to come down and talk to the veterans before the assembly started. Overall, the students were extremely respectful. I appreciated that very much. It was very touching when the students stood up and clapped for us, and then we stood to acknowledge their ovations. I liked hearing Marcus Tageant’s speech.”
Music was performed by the student band entitled in the “Armed Forces Salute,” by Bob Lowden, which included a medley of songs representing the various services. The medley began with America the Beautiful, followed by the Caisson Salute, Semper Paratus, Marine Hymn, US Air Force and Anchors Away. As the medley transitioned, Veterans stood at attention during the musical segment that represented their service area.
“I really appreciated how well the ASB President and Vice-President presented the program. It was very well choreographed. I really liked the choir and the band. The Armed Forces medley was special to hear the Navy Hymn,” Truman Peterson, U.S. Navy, WWII said.
This annual event has become a favorite of local Veterans and students.
All schools and students in Lake Stevens School District honored and celebrated Veterans Day.
In the midst of all this, James Bailey, a former Marine that lives in the south lake area, was burned out of his home (smoke damage) that evening.
He, his wife, and two daughters do have a place to stay but only had the clothes on their backs. Merinda Mullins, a member of the American Legion Post 181 Auxiliary called Karen Morea, the Auxiliary President. Calls were made and money, clothes, backpacks for the girls, and toiletries were immediately made available to them until their insurance became available. The Lake Stevens Family Center helped get the Bailey’s supplies.