Schools in the Wentzville School District held Veterans Day celebrations over the past week to salute the brave men and women who are currently serving or who have served in the U.S. armed forces. Boone Trail, Crossroads, Discovery Ridge, Duello, Green Tree, Heritage, Lakeview, Prairie View, Peine Ridge, Stone Creek and Wabash elementary schools, as well as Holt and Timberland high schools, all invited veterans to their special activities scheduled in honor of the holiday. Veterans were treated to meals, student performances, and slide shows honoring past and present members of the military, along with special guest speakers.
“Veterans are special because they are a different type of brave. They don’t join the military for popularity or praise, they do it to help us,” said Delaney Hilgenbrink, a 6th grader at Crossroads Elementary. “They know that every day on call is dangerous and risky but they do it anyway because if they don’t, then no one will. Everything about them is special.”
At Stone Creek Elementary, two 94-year old WWII veterans were recognized as part of the ceremony: Richard Baron served in the Army and he is the grandfather of Abbey Rosenblum, who teaches third grade at the school. Philip Wahler also served in the Army and his daughter, Cathy Sommerhof, is a fourth grade teacher at the school. “It meant the world to our teachers that they could both be here for our celebration and we were happy to spotlight them,” shared Assistant Principal Melissa Armbruster. “They were given a standing ovation – it was very moving!”
At both Timberland and Holt, veterans were visibly emotional as they entered the gymnasium to a standing ovation by over 1,700 teenage students at each school. Three WWII veterans have been attending Timberland’s celebration for years: brothers Edgar and Dan Kratli, who both served in the Navy and Vince Boemer, who received the Purple Heart for his service in the Army, were on hand for this year’s event as well.
Liberty High School invited veterans over the course of a week to stop by the school for a photo shoot by student photographers that resulted in a moving portfolio of veterans connected to the school, either as a relative or friend of a student or staff member, or an employee of the school, which includes Liberty’s principal, school resource officer, a bus driver and a custodian.
In addition to the celebrations, schools held service projects that included making cards for current service members deployed overseas and collecting items for care packages and the local USO. Schools also coordinated fundraisers for organizations that serve veterans like the Wounded Warrior Project, GI GO Fund, Salvation Army Harbor Lights, and Central Missouri Honor Flight.