Veterans Event Becomes Tradition at Prairie Center

Nov. 15, 2017 ~ Only in its second year, the Veterans Day tribute at Prairie Center Elementary School has become a proud moment for staff and students alike.

“Our staff and students take great pride in this event,” Principal Chris Lucas said. “It is very important that we recognize the great things our veterans and active service members have done, and continue to do, for our community and nation.”

Friday, Nov. 10 began with a special breakfast for service men and women and their student relative/friend in the library media center. Turnout was high for that event as well as the rest of the morning’s activities.

“We had about 40 veterans and active service members and their families participate in the breakfast and assembly,” Lucas said.

The Olathe West High School marching band helped honor veterans by marching through the school and performing on the playground in front of the entire student body. Despite the cold wind, everyone enjoyed the band’s performance as well as that of the Shawnee Mission North High School Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (NJROTC) silent drill team.

“In spite of the weather, things went really well!” Lucas said. “We had many veterans and families who came to me and thanked us for putting on the event. They were truly impressed with how respectful our students were and were impressed with all of their hard work in organizing and facilitating our event. They felt most honored by our students.”

Administrative secretary Susie Zimmerman is the lead organizer for the annual recognition which was the school’s first official Leader in Me event (based on the Franklin Covey leadership program for students). She and kindergarten aide Deb Wilson worked with the school’s leadership action team to organize the event. Last year Prairie Center hosted a display of military vehicles and military plane parts. This year she asked veterans to sign a Wall of Fame for the school. Various teachers organized aspects of the event. Kindergartners waved American flags and sang a song, followed by first-graders holding paper poppy flowers and singing another song. The Special Chorus took the stage to sing multiple patriotic songs for the entire school body and visiting veterans and active service members.

“This is only our second year, but I hope it becomes a tradition,” Zimmerman said. “I received an email from a mom, and it sums up why this is important to me.” The email read: Thank you so much for making all of this happen. It means a lot to the kids, but it especially means a lot to the veterans. Especially the ones like my dad who for years were never recognized.

“We love being able to give back to our veterans in small way to thank them for the impact they have made for us,” Lucas said.

The Olathe West High School percussionists were led through the school by two flag-bearers. photo of two elementary students leading band
Each kindergartner had an American flag to wave during their portion of the program. photo of kindergartners waiving flags
A teacher and veteran review the special program created for each special guest. photo of a teacher and veteran looking at the event program
Boy Scout Troop 3084 presented the flag and saluted as it was carried into the multi-purpose room. photo of Boy Scouts saluting the flag

First-graders made colorful paper poppies to give to each veteran. A red cupcake wrapper and a green pipe cleaner turned into a special gift.

Photos by Marlene Colgan
photo of girl holding a paper poppy