WDC students honor veterans with music, essays, posters and more
U.S. Army National Guard Captain Joachim Eitenmiller smiled as the gymnasium filled with the sweet, strong voices of K-12 students singing patriotic music that honored and thanked veterans.
Cpt. Eitenmiller was at WDC’s Veterans Day program today, not only as an active soldier, but as the program’s keynote speaker. He said he was truly impressed with how WDC holds a school-wide program to salute and honor veterans.
“Wadena-Deer Creek Schools should be commended for their Veterans Day program,” said Cpt. Eitenmiller, who has served four tours overseas in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and twice in Iraq where he earned the Bronze Star. He’s currently the Director of Public Safety at Camp Ripley near Little Falls.
That emotional feeling was shared by many Tuesday as students, staff and community members paid tribute to veterans during the school’s 2014 Veterans Day celebration.
In his keynote speech, Cpt. Eitenmiller talked about remembering all veterans – past and active. He said throughout the decades, their courage has endured, and that’s one of the many reasons we are gathered here today for Veterans Day.
He also spoke of the importance of the Minnesota National Guard’s role in the military, stating that 1,500 Minnesota soldiers are deployed at all times. “They are an active and dynamic part of military action throughout the globe,” he added. He cited the support from communities, like Wadena, is important too, especially when soldiers return from war. “It’s important that we help soldiers integrate back into civilian life,” he told the audience.
Cpt. Eitenmiller then asked the audience to give a brief moment of silence as a gesture of respect for veterans who’ve died.
In closing, Cpt. Eitenmiller reminded everyone of the history of Veterans Day. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the legislation on June 1, 1954. From then on, November 11 became a day to honor American veterans of all wars and to preserve their efforts and honor their bravery.
WDC salutes veterans
WDC’s Veterans Day program opened with the Presentation of Colors by the Wadena VFW Post 3922 Color Guard, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance led Ryan Olson, vice president of the Wadena-Deer Creek Student Council.
Directed by Mike Ortmann, the WDC Concert Choir sang a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem, as veterans, their families, grades K-12 students and staff held their hand over their hearts while joining in.
WDC Superintendent Lee Westrum welcomed all in attendance and spoke of the importance of this day to honor our veterans and what an educational opportunity this program is for WDC students.
“We gather today to honor our veterans, those men and women who have bravely served our country and placed the well-being of our great nation ahead of their personal well-being,” Westrum said.
Next, Wadena VFW Teacher of the Year Chairman Jim White announced this year’s “Teacher of the Year” nominee Junelle Jackson, WDC second-grade teacher. She was presented with a certificate and her nomination will be forwarded to the district competition.
Under the direction of Mary Ellenson, the WDC K-4 students – many dressed in red, white and blue -- performed the moving, “You are Our Heroes” with a solo performance by first-grader, Anna Fiemeyer. This was followed by an energetic rendition of “All-American Me.”
Supt. Westrum introduced the fifth- and sixth-grade essay contest winners. They each read their essay on “Why I am Proud to be an American.” These first-place essay winners included Joshua Dykhoff, Anna Church, Kaylin Lupkes, Kira Reiman, Gavin Wedde and Elena Ikola.
The WDC Concert Choir sang another moving song called “The Glory – A Tribute to the Civil War” under the direction of Mr. Ortmann and with piano accompanist, Lisa Weniger, WDC band director. The song was complimented with a PowerPoint of Civil War photos and the song’s lyrics.
The entire K-12 vocal music students performed a moving montage called “A Tribute to the Armed Services,” which featured each service organization song for the Army, National Guard, Marines, Coast Guard, Navy and Air Force. As each song played, the respective veterans stood up, many singing along to the music and saluting.
The program concluded with WDC band member, Rylie Langer, playing the deeply-emotional rendition of “Taps.”
Also noted in the Veteran’s Day flyer was the poster contest for students in grades three and four. This year’s theme was “Symbols of America.” Third-grade winners in Mrs. Finn’s class included: Hannah Dosdall, first, and Isabelle Larson, second; Mr. Mehl’s class: KatieRae Fiemeyer, first, and Tristen South, second; Mr. Mielke’s class: Isabelle Johnson, first, and Kelanie Oldakowski; and Mr. Savoie’s class: Keiza Chandler, first, and Aaliyah Walker, second.
Fourth-grade poser winners included: Mrs. Logan’s class: Madelyn Gallant, first, and Haylee Dickey, second; Mr. Sea’s class: Ally Pavek, first, and Madison Carsten, second; and Mr. Woods’s class: Kayla Meeks, first, and Cole Woods, second.
The Wadena VFW Ladies Auxiliary sponsored the Patriot’s Pen Essay Contest. This year’s theme was “Why I Appreciate America’s Veterans.” Winners included: seventh-grader Margaret Carlson, first place; and eighth-graders Kylee Hopp, first; Elissa Ikola, second; and Kyla Ness, third.
The WDC Student Council served a free pancake breakfast prior to the program for veterans and their families. About 100 veterans and their families attended the breakfast.