Schools to host patriotic programs
Swadley: 'This is one of the most important things we do'
Cassville High School will host its 27th annual Veterans Day assembly on Wednesday at 9 a.m. in the Wildcat Gymnasium.
Held to honor American veterans and a combined effort of students and staff, the assembly has been a tradition within the school district, and the community, for many years.
"None of us would be here doing what we're doing without them," said Jeff Swadley, high school principal, who said the event is, by far, probably the most important one the district does. "The goal of the assembly is that they [students] will understand the sacrifices made and what it takes for them to have those freedoms. And, I believe they do.
"I think it's our job as the adults to teach that. Events like graduation are very important, but this is one of this most important things we do at this school. If history repeats itself, we'll have anywhere from 50-100 veterans. It's a big show and deservedly so."
The assembly will include patriotic presentations and performances from students and staff.
After an introduction from Swadley, students from the JROTC Color Guard will present the flags in a Presentation of Colors ceremony.
"It's our students that attend Scott Tech and train for this," Swadley said.
The concert band will perform the Star Spangled Banner, and the high school choir will sing traditional patriotic songs. During the assembly, the two student winners of the Veterans Day essay, which have not yet been announced, will read their essay to veterans.
The student body president will announce the different branches of the military and have members from each branch be recognized.
JROTC members will demonstrate the 13 folds of the American Flag, and a flag will be dedicated.
"As they're making those folds, we'll have a few students reading the meaning behind those folds," Swadley said. "Every year, we dedicate a flag to honor a veteran. It's a really big deal.
"We contact their family members, get information on where they're at now, medals they've won and wars they fought in. Last year was very emotional, because it's typically someone who has spent a lot of years in the military or been in a lot of battles, so its a really neat moment."
Veterans will be presented with a certificate of appreciation, which the school makes for them, and there will be a reading about the missing soldier.
"We will have one chair upfront that is just for the soldier who is missing in action and have a moment of silence," he said.
High School Band Director Scott Frederickson will play Taps, and the JROTC will retrieve the colors.
A reception for veterans will take place after the assembly concludes, in which student council members, who have prepared cake and punch, will serve veterans.
Swadley said that although the assembly happens once a year, people should be thanking veterans on a regular basis.
"Honestly, I think our country as a whole should be thanking them every day when they see them, and I believe we do a great job, and I think our kids understand the importance of it," he said. "Honestly, you could hear a pin drop throughout the whole assembly."
In addition to the performances and student involvement in the assembly, in the weeks prior, students are given assignments that tie directly into Veterans Day.
"I think we do a very good job recognizing them on that day," Swadley said. "There's a reason you and I can do the jobs we do and live in the houses we do. I have several family members who have served and I know what it's like. This day means a lot to me.
"Without them, we may not be having a graduation, or a football team. We're very blessed and fortunate. We could be like people in China or Russia. We get to raise our children with a free public education. Without veterans protecting our freedoms, we don't have anything."
Swadley extended a personal invitation to all veterans, businesses and community members who would like to attend.
"Please contact us, because we truly do want to honor every single veteran that we can," he said.
On Nov. 12, Cassville Intermediate school students will also host a patriotic event for veterans, which has been an annual tradition at the school for many years.
Students will present the patriotic program, This is America, at 1:30 p.m. at the FEMA Event Center, along with an evening performance at 7 p.m.
"I'm looking forward to it," said Intermediate Principal Eric White. "We have a new vocal music director, Shelby Long, and she's worked very hard to make it a success. It's what we do to try to honor veterans in the community. It's one of the best things that we do."
White said in addition to honoring veterans, the event is an opportunity to teach and instill in young children the meaning of Veterans Day and foster an appreciation for veterans.
"For kids that are 8-9 years old, I think it's a great experience because there are a lot of opportunities just through the performance to learn about what it is to be a veteran," he said. "I don't think we can ever teach them enough about that and what the veterans have done for us."
White said during the program, veterans in the audiences will be asked to stand and be recognized.
"We just want to honor our American veterans and this is one way of showing that appreciation," said Intermediate School Secretary Joyce Ennis. "I think it helps students to show respect for veterans in the community and leadership of all kinds."
"Cassville High School has held the Veterans Day assembly for many years," said Richard Asbill, superintendent for the school district. "It is a wonderful example of the efforts our teachers and students take to reflect the community beliefs and traditions that our community has for military service."
Other area schools will be observing Veterans Day on Wednesday as well. The Southwest school district will host a meal at noon, being cooked and served by the Southwest FFA, and a program at 1 p.m. in the high school gym, with the band and cheerleaders performing. All are encouraged to attend.
Wheaton High School will host assembly in the high school gymnasium at 9:30 a.m. The school will then provide veterans and their families lunch at 11 a.m. in the High School Student Center.