Blue Ridge School and Early College faculty and students gathered with veterans, family, and friends on Friday to honor those who have served or are currently serving in the U.S. military in honor of Veterans Day on Nov. 11.
The celebration of service included a rousing national anthem sung by Audrey Rice, a flag-folding ceremony, Charles Wood performing “Stars and Stripes Forever” on the banjo, and performances by Junior Appalachian Musicians (JAM) and BRS/BREC Choir.
For the past 19 years, BRS Pre-K and Kindergarten students lead the entire school in a Service-Learning Project. After a person or organization is chosen, the topic is then integrated into teachers’ lessons, said Pre-K Teacher Wanda Crisp.
On Oct. 31, the Pre-K and Kindergarten students dressed in their Halloween costumes and went from class to class collecting money for Jimmy Dillard VFW Post 10685 and presented an $800 check to Ed Jones, VFW Post Commander, with money raised from Trick-or-Treat for Veterans.
“For a small school like Blue Ridge it is a testament to the citizenship, hard work and generosity of our students,” said Crisp. “Many of the students earned money doing chores, solicited support from friends and family, and reached into their own piggy banks. What a blessing!”
Teachers incorporated military service into lesson plans giving younger students a basic understanding of the sacrifices made by those who serve.
“Words that appeared in almost every discussion were commitment, courage, and sacrifice,” said Crisp. “They recognize these men and women left the comfort and safety of home to serve and protect. The students realized that members of our military often go long periods away from loved ones and sometimes even miss important holidays and birthdays with their families to fight for our freedom. They understand their acts of courage in putting themselves in harm’s way to serve our country. As one student said, ‘This makes my heart sad and proud at the same time.’”
At the elementary level students learned about veterans, patriotic songs, monuments, poems such as “In Flanders Field,” the branches of the military, veterans’ contributions and sacrifices…etc. Upper-grade students explore these topics in greater depth such as the social climate during the Vietnam War.
Crisp said the Jimmy Dillard VFW was a perfect choice as this year’s recipient.
“After we learned the local VFW was named in honor of Jimmy Dillard, a Glenville High School graduate that lost his life in Vietnam, we decided we should let his mom (Sybil Dillard) know that 51 years after his ultimate sacrifice that her son’s name was being spoken in the hallways at Blue Ridge School,” said Crisp.
She added that it is a powerful lesson in empathy and caring for all students.
“As an example, after reading the book America’s White Table, the Pre-K students insisted we set up our own ‘White Table in our lunchroom in honor of MIA’s and POW’s,” said Crisp. “The students having the opportunity to interact with and interview veterans about their military service, talking face to face, listening to their stories of service and sacrifice, to hug their necks, shake their hands, and thank them for their service solidified their admiration and respect for all veterans.”