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High schools valuing veterans
Hall County Schools pay tribute this Veterans Day
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East Hall High School ROTC presents the flag-folding ceremony at a Veterans Day assembly Wednesday. - photo by AMBER TYNER

On Nov. 11 the nation honors men and women that have been active in war. The Gainesville and Hall County community holds various services and programs to recognize these veterans, and many schools within the system have taken it upon themselves to do so as well. Because of these efforts, students across the county have the privilege of paying respect toward the sacrifices that individuals in our community have made to protect our freedom.

At Johnson High School, faculty arranged for veterans of war to come to designated classes to speak with students in groups this Veterans Day.

Flowery Branch’s principal, Dr. Jason Carter, made a point in the school’s morning announcements to recognize veterans within the faculty. He encouraged students to personally thank those individuals today.

Chestatee has taken part in a movement known as “Greenlight A Vet,” which encourages citizens to change one of their personal lights to green. The continuous glowing of the green lights is meant to be a symbol of appreciation and support toward veterans. Chestatee has replaced several of their cafeteria lights with green ones.

West Hall High School, in collaboration with West Hall Middle, Flowery Branch Elementary and Oakwood Elementary, hosted a Veterans Night Tuesday night in their gym. This event has been held for at least five years now.

Flowery Branch Elementary fourth- and fifth-grade classes, Oakwood Elementary’s third-grade classes and West Hall Middle all performed songs. The West Hall High School band and chorus performed as well.

Their keynote speaker was the assistant principal from Sugar Hill Elementary, Dr. Jeff Chandler, a retired Army sergeant and 22-year veteran. All with different ranks and files, there were about 50 veterans in attendance.

The purpose of the event was “to honor our veterans, to say thank you to our vets, and to commemorate,” West Hall High principal Scott Justus said. “It’s something we enjoy doing for our community. We probably had over 500 in attendance.”

In addition to the Veterans Night, West Hall High School is also having students sign a banner Wednesday that will be delivered to the veterans clinic in Oakwood. The school also took part in the “Greenlight a Vet” by placing a green light in its front office.

East Hall High School held its fifth annual Veterans Day assembly for both the student body and community Wednesday morning in its gymnasium. The assembly consisted of ROTC ceremonies, such as the presentation of colors and the flag-folding ceremony, as well as addresses by three veterans: David Hall, Colonel Patricia Zaudtke and Howard Whelchel.

East Hall’s student council, with director Joyce Tharpe, organized the event.

“We want to pay tribute to all Veterans and members of our military. As a school, it is part of our responsibility as educators to use this day to educate the youth of our community as to the importance of responsibility to one another and to our country,” Tharpe said “It is an honor to set aside a specific time and thank them for their service, contributions and sacrifices so that we may continue to enjoy the principles of freedom and democracy in this country. I have been tremendously proud of the student response and respect for each of the previous programs.”

Student Council President Claudia Mendoza conveyed the importance of the event for the study body: “As the student body president, I think it’s especially important that we dedicate an assembly to the veterans especially because we’re some of the reason they fought, and I think it’s important we realize they sacrificed.”

In addition to the assembly, the East Hall band, under the leadership of Craig Cantrell, held a Veterans Day concert Tuesday night.

East Hall Student Council has been placing American flags on the property’s front hillside for about eight years now to show the local community that the school is thankful for its veterans.

“It has been an easy way for the students and community to physically see a tradition of respect being carried on at the school. Each year the students decide how they want to display the flags,” Tharpe said.

With the numerous community and school events that have been held, students have had many opportunities to show their gratitude for those who have fought for our country. If you haven’t already been told, thank a veteran.

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