Veterans share insights with social studies classes

Arianna Peper
Contributing Writer

Peper Veterans Day
Freshman Khobie Hicks enters the F4 Fighter Jet that students are able to sit in on Friday, Nov. 4.   The official Veterans Day Program will be Monday, Nov. 7.   Photo by Arianna Peper

“It isn’t just a social studies event, but something that benefits everyone in our community,” social studies teacher Betty Roberts said.

Alongside social studies teacher Terence Verstraete, Roberts helps run the Veterans Day Program which will take place on Nov. 7.

“It is important that students get to see that there are people who contributed to a cause that was bigger than themselves,” Verstraete said.

Verstraete said the event is a great experience for everyone, and that the students here have always been polite and welcoming towards the veterans.

This year Verstraete invited 130 veterans, and around 60 veterans will come to the school, where breakfast will be served to them in the morning.

In addition to the breakfast, veterans will give speeches during the assembly where first hour social studies teachers will be able to bring their classes. The assembly will include flags and music to welcome the veterans.

An F4 fighter jet will be available on Friday, Nov. 4.  This will allow students to be able to see what it is like to be in the seat of a pilot.  Also there will be other military equipment.

Each year there is a theme for the program, and this year it will be women in the military. There will be a female guest speaker during the assembly, who was a part of the Vietnam war.

Later in the day five veterans who have come from various different backgrounds and eras will visit social studies class throughout the day to speak with students.

Michael Siebels, a math teacher and veteran who was in the U.S. Navy for 20 years, attended the event last year and recently spoke about how it is a unique experience for students to get the chance to speak to veterans.

Siebels said speaking to people who were an important part of history gives a larger perspective, instead of reading textbooks or looking at a Smartboard.

“I want to encourage students to be involved and to listen to the veterans’ speeches and get the opportunity to thank them for everything they have done,” Siebels said.

The Veterans Day Program has been going since 2003. During that time Roberts has been one of the organizers for the past 19 years and said none of it could have been possible without the help of the custodial staff.

The custodial staff works with the organizers and has been a large part of helping to set up the event and making sure everything afterwards is kept together. Roberts said many times she feels as though the members of custodial staff aren’t thanked enough for all that they do.

This will be Vestraete’s last year here since he is retiring, and he said, “I believe that over the years this had been one of the highlights of our school.”

When Verstraete started the program, only 10-15 veterans came in during the first year.

“The Veterans Day Program has been able to grow to this point, and it will continue. It has been important for students to hear about the sacrifices others made,” Verstraete.

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