DOUG SCHRODER PHOTO Belvidere Republican
Vietnam veteran Robin Hannah poses alongside a Humvee with Mrs. Flores’ fourth-grade class during the Veterans Day celebration at Washington Academy Elementary School held on Thursday, Nov. 10. Each class at the school came out at different points during the day and students were able to explore the vehicle inside and out. Members of the National Guard were on hand to answer any questions the students might have.

Students at Washington Academy Elementary School in Belvidere were treated to a celebration with veterans throughout the day on Thursday, Nov, 10. The Veterans Day celebration has been an event put on for nearly 20 years now by Washington Academy physical education teacher Kristine Frank. She started the tradition at Washington and then carried it on at Meehan Elementary for many years until she returned to Washington this year.

Prior to the event this year students prepped for the day by completing Veterans Day projects in class that were taped to the walls of the hallways for veterans to see when they came in. The hallways were also decorated by volunteers with streamers and other decorations in anticipation of the celebration.

During the morning meetings in each class it was announced what behavior was expected of the students throughout the day and that there was a special surprise for the students. Around nine o’clock students found out what the surprise was as classes filed out one by one to see and explore a Humvee that was bought to the school.

At 10 a.m. veterans visited the classrooms where they read books to the children. After reading, the veterans took question from the kids in the class about their service.

One of those veterans in the classroom was BCUSD100 IT Director Bryan Erskine. He read “Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast” to Mrs. Flores fourth-grade class. Being a veteran of both the Navy and Marines, he had much information to share with the class when they asked him questions.

One student asked him if he was ever scared during his service.

“Definitely,” he replied. “Especially when the enemy was firing at us.”

At noon, classes started to file outside to view the procession for Army Cpl. William Zoellick, the Belvidere resident who died as a POW in the Korean War (1950-53), whose remains were recently returned from Korea.

The procession arrived around 12:20 p.m. and the students in large part remained in silent observance as the procession passed by on Alan Street.

At 1 p.m. all classes came to the gym, where an assembly too place. After welcomes by Principal Walocha and Mrs. Frank, the Rockford chapter of Vietnow presented the colors.

Music teacher Sally Medearis then sang the Star Spangled Banner.

All students then sang “You Belong.”

Mrs. Medearis then led the first- and second-graders in the “My Flag” song.

Mrs. Flores fourth-grade class then took turns reading “What is Veterans Day”.

After that the Space Force song was played with an accompanying video.

After that, Washington students and staff came to stand behind their special guest.

Mrs. Medearis then belted out a beautiful rendition of “God Bless the USA-Proud to be and American”.

When she was finished, each Washington student introduced themselves and their special guest.

“God Bless America” was then played followed by a few words from Belvidere Superintendent Dr. Cassandra Schug.

Mrs. Frank then spoke on behalf of Belvidere Mayor Clint Morris, then she finished up with thank-yous to those who helped make the event possible.

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