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Ballou Junior High hosts Veterans Day assembly
Ballou Junior High hosts Veterans Day assembly
Posted on 11/09/2015

“We would like to personally thank all veterans and active service personnel as we honor you today” said Principal Krista Bates as she welcomed the audience to the Veterans Day assembly held at Ballou Junior High on November 6. The assembly was well attended by veterans and active military personnel, as well as students, staff, and parents. The program included music, student presentations, and tributes to military relatives. The guest speakers were Congressman Denny Heck and Colonel Michael Lane, United States Air Force, Retired, who shared his story as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.


Prominently displayed during the assembly was a flag standing 30 feet wide and 20 feet tall. The program began with the presentation of colors by the Rogers High School JROTC Color Guard, followed by the Star Spangled Banner performed by the Ballou Band.


Master of ceremony, Ballou teacher Darren Erath, told the military guests “Today’s purpose is to honor you.”


Congressmen Denny Heck, representing the 10th Congressional District, spoke to the audience and noted that American military personnel are also humanitarians. He added “Wherever the task is, however demanding, however dangerous that’s where our American military go.” Congressman Heck was accompanied by Director of Military Affairs, Roel van der Lugt.


Guest speaker, and grandfather to Ballou student Morgan Thomas, Colonel Lane described how, when his plane was shot down over Vietnam in 1966, he had to eject and was captured. He was a prisoner of war for 2,271 days. With his granddaughter standing beside him, he talked about the significant challenges that faced him during this time, and also about the important communication and support the prisoners were able to give each other while they were held captive. He described how one of the American prisoners created a United States flag out of rags and was tortured when the flag was discovered. After that, the prisoner made another US flag. Colonel Lane stated “That flag doesn’t represent the United States Government, it represents us.”


Seventh-grade Ballou students Bryce Erath, Alex Rodriguez, and Jared Fischer each spoke about a member of their family serving in the military. Bryce and his grandfather were joined at the podium by his father, Darren Erath, as Bryce described his grandfather’s career.


Student Jared Fischer, with father in the front row, presented information on his mother Amanda, a staff sergeant in the Air Force, currently stationed in Kansan, South Korea. She has been stationed there for eight months and is expected to return home next March. As Jared spoke to the audience about his mother, his father sat in the audience holding his cell phone with his mother on “Facetime” from Korea, watching Jared as he honored her. As Jared finished his presentation, he was surprised when asked to turn and face the screen and a video message from his mother was broadcast for Jared and the audience to watch.


Two Woodland Elementary fifth-grade students read letters of gratitude they had written for the country’s veterans.


The music performances included the Ballou Band, The Ballou Advanced Orchestra, and the Ballou Choir. Rogers student Nathan Meyers played a solo of Taps. When the Ballou Band played the Marches of the Armed Forces, veterans were invited to stand and be recognized as the band played their anthem.


A Black Hawk helicopter could be heard flying over Ballou at one point during the assembly in recognition of the Veterans Day assembly. The assembly ended with a standing ovation for all veterans and active military personnel.


Veterans Day assemblies were held at schools throughout the district from November 5 - 10.


Click here for Ballou slide show.