Starting at 6 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 8, students of History Club arrived at Lake Central High School to put the final touches on the 5th annual Veterans Day ceremony. Students from History Club had been planning and decorating weeks in advance.
“I [wanted] to help because I really feel like we should do something honoring our veterans, and I think we should be prepared to just show how much we care for these people that fight for us and let us be here today. It was a good time setting up and letting us honor them,” Alex Mantis (10) said.
Alumni attend the ceremony as well. Many veterans who partake in part of the ceremony have graduated from Lake Central themselves and come back to help out with the day’s events.
“What’s special about Lake Central’s Veterans Day ceremony is that it’s student-run. They actually take the time to honor the veterans and the people who have come from the school and everyone from the area. It’s a really special event that makes everyone remember to give back. It’s awesome. This wasn’t here when I went to LC, so I was able to be a part of this right when I got out. I was part of the first color guard, and just coming back is just a really warm feeling,” Brandon Cole, Alumni, said.
Mr. Patrick O’Donnel, a Vietnam Veteran, was the ceremony’s keynote speaker. O’Donnel spoke about the importance of freedom and the people who fight for it, while also thanking all of those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for our country. His speech instilled patriotism and nationalism in the crowd.
“I enjoy the students, I enjoy talking to [them] and teaching them about liberty and freedom and what sacrifices our veterans have made in order to keep those liberties and keep freedom alive here in the United States of America. I will try to continue and advocate for the veterans because the veterans of our country deserve everything we can give them,” O’Donnel said.
Along with the members of History Club, Mr. Paul Volk, Art, helped with the decoration of the school for the program. Volk helped set up red, white and blue lights as well as tribute portraits of POWs and MIAs of the surrounding area. Volk and student volunteers also arranged the American flags in the school’s Perpetual Art Garden.
“I added the visual elements to the oral interpretation and story of war,” Volk said.
On the day of the ceremony, the students were encouraged to invite a veteran in their life to have breakfast with them prior to the ceremony. Many students were able to bring grandparents, parents and all other types of relations into the school to eat with them and sit together during the ceremony.
“I like how the school does the Veterans Day ceremony to honor the veterans’ sacrifice. Shout out to Papa Shefts for doing his duty, I love him,” Dimitri Nassenstein (12) said.
The teacher behind the success of the Veterans Day ceremony is the committed Mr. Tom Clark, Social Studies. He has been serving the high school as well as his country for many dedicated years. Clark helps organize all of the students in History Club, and some NHS students, to work together to prepare the school, arrange the events, find people to participate as well as speak and all of the other little details that go into making the ceremony great. Clark and his officers of the History Club work hard every year to make the Veterans Day ceremony a reality for all to enjoy.
“I’m very proud, proud of the students and staff for putting [the program] together to honor the veterans. It made us all feel so good as veterans that people care. I saw leadership in the students like I’ve never seen before,” Clark said.