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Students get lessons in freedom for Veterans Day
School projects to honor service members past and present this week
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Spout Springs Road Elementary teacher Julie Angel hangs student-made wreaths Monday afternoon while student Max Turner, 7, holds the next one to be hung along the school's driveway in honor of the upcoming Veteran's Day. Students made the wreaths from cut-out hand tracings and added the name of veterans and those currently serving in the armed forces.

Veterans Day isn't until Thursday, but some local schools are starting early to honor the nation's warriors with events and programs.

Leading up to the big day, students at Wauka Mountain Multiple Intelligences Academy are bringing in photos of family members who served or are currently serving in the armed forces. The collage decorates the school's media center.
"It's powerful to look at and see the impact these soldiers have made on the lives of children," Truelove said.

Wauka Mountain expects to play host to about 100 veterans this Thursday for an assembly and reception. As the program concludes, veterans will stroll the hallways of the school for a "Walk of Honor," as students and staff cheer and wave signs.

Beginning at 1:15 p.m., the school will hold an assembly in the school gym featuring the White County color guard, guest speaker state Rep. Doug Collins and choir students will sing hymns from all branches of the military.

Third-grade teacher Laura Phillips said Spout Springs Elementary School students are creating wreaths with the names of veterans and active duty military in the community, to be hung in front of the school this week. Children are also penning letters to wounded soldiers at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

"The students will send them get well and thank you cards. Just positive messages to uplift them while they recover," Phillips said.

The Northeast Georgia History Center coordinated for Mack Abbott, a World War II and Pearl Harbor veteran and Dennis Smalley, a Vietnam War veteran, to visit the school today to speak with students. Staff plan to videotape the speech to play for classes on the video announcement system Thursday.

Several schools have invited residents to show their patriotic colors with celebrations on Veterans Day. They are free and open to the public.

Tadmore Elementary School will host an assembly at 1 p.m. featuring visiting veterans and patriotic music from the East Hall High School Band.

Thursday evening, East Hall High School will hold the program "The Sound of Freedom: A Tribute To Our Veterans" beginning at 7 p.m. The second annual celebration will be held in the school gymnasium.

The evening will feature guest speakers, a parade of veterans, patriotic music and readings and a flag-folding ceremony to salute Hall County veterans.

Truelove said Hall County began an initiative several years ago to plan events for veterans at each of the schools this time of year.

"We make the expectation clear to all 33 of our schools that they have something planned for this week," Superintendent Will Schofield said. "I think its one of the most important days of the year and a tremendous learning opportunity."

Robert Parks, a teacher and co-organizer at Wauka, said many local veterans are touched by the programs and sent the school thank you letters in the past.

"They said it meant a lot to them that young people in this generation were aware of their service and the meaningfulness behind it," Parks said.

It's also a significant lesson for students, he added.

"It's important for kids to understand that the things they get to enjoy didn't come free," he said.

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