Middle school invites you for Veterans Day
How many of us pay much attention to Nov. 11, which is Veterans Day?
If we aren't reminded about it on the news, we may realize the occasion because the post office is closed and there's no mail delivery.
Meyer Middle School Assistant Principal Mark Chapin can't overlook Veterans Day because his wife has already been deployed overseas four times by the Minnesota Air National Guard -- twice in Iraq and twice in Afghanistan.
Cary (Riess) Chapin, a 1991 River Falls High School graduate, carries the rank of major and pilots a C-130 military transport to supply fighting troops.
Cary, home now and looking after the couple's three young children, will be guest speaker at Meyer Middle School's Veterans Day Program from 1-2 p.m. Wednesday, with a social hour to follow.
Mark Chapin emphasized the program, held in the school's spacious gym, is aimed not just for students but for the public, too.
"We'd like to invite anyone who's interested and that especially includes veterans," Chapin said.
Chapin said when he taught at Ellsworth Middle School, that school produced an annual Veterans Day program that was popular and well attended by local citizens.
So the idea has carried over to River Falls, which pleases Chapin. He says unless you have a loved one or family member serving abroad, it's easy to forget that "we're still at war."
"What we hope to do at Meyer Middle School is make this a tribute for both those who have served and those who are serving now and making many sacrifices," he said. "The bottom line is that we can't forget about veterans, especially the ones who are still in harm's way."
Chapin said supporting veterans can mean sending cards and packages to them.
"Those kinds of gestures go a long way. It can also be a simple acknowledgement, such as if you see someone with a World War II or a Korean War veterans hat, go up to them, say hi and thank them for what they did."
Students play role in program
Seventh grade social studies teacher Deb Meyer heads the school committee preparing for Veterans Day.
She said there's a sense among her colleagues that little has been done to make the day seem relevant to middle school students.
A flag-raising ceremony by local veterans held outside the school is always touching, but it's also brief and quickly forgotten when everyone rushes back inside.
"There just hasn't been much that we do so that kids fully grasp what Veterans Day stands for, its meaning and how it ties in with good citizenship, responsibility and service to county," said Meyer, who added: "What we're trying to do with the program is get our students to think outside of their own little world and appreciate the freedoms they have and what they stand for."
Chapin and Meyer said the Wednesday, Nov. 11, program in the gym should raise everyone's awareness.
Patriotic music will be performed and sung by the school band and choir.
As a song medley for each military branch is played, audience members who served in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and National Guard will be asked to stand and be recognized.
Meyer Middle School student representatives from each grade will give short speeches.
The three chosen auditioned for the speaking roles: Andy Myers, 6th grade; Kenny Oberlin, 7th grade; and Reilly Myklebust, 8th grade.
Students are also bringing pictures of immediate family members who were in the armed forces. A Power Point montage of these veterans will be shown on a large screen as guests file in for the Veterans Day Program.
The local American Legion Color Guard will set up a display of flags going back to colonial times on the front stage.
Principal Mike Johnson will be master of ceremonies for the hour-long program.
After the students leave, Chapin said people can stay for cookies, coffee, refreshments and to mingle with friends, neighbors and -- of course -- the veterans.