Veterans were honored from a distance on Wednesday with multiple local schools taking time to recognize the servicemen and servicewomen of Fayette County and the United States.
With COVID-19 continuing to spread, the usual events that are held on Veterans Day were altered or canceled. In an effort to ensure veterans were honored, Miami Trace Local Schools put together virtual assemblies at their buildings that are now available on the district website (https://www.miamitrace.k12.oh.us/).
At Miami Trace Middle School, choir students performed the “Star-Spangled Banner” before Joseph Thompson, president of the student council at the middle school, spoke about what Veterans Day is and why it’s celebrated. Treasurer of the student council, Eric Taylor, read a poem about the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and vice president of student council, Keenan Moore, thanked veterans one last time before the Miami Trace Middle School Band performed “God Bless America.”
The largest of these virtual celebrations at Miami Trace was at Miami Trace High School. It replaced the annual breakfast and assembly for veterans this year.
During the presentation, Miami Trace High School “Soundsations” sang the “Star-Spangled Banner,” and “God Bless America.” Following the musical pieces, American Legion Americanism and Government Test Chairman Ed Helt and his assistant Elaine Stahlsworth presented the top six students (one boy and one girl from the 10th, 11th and 12th grades) with their awards. This year the winners were seniors Titus Lehr and Siara Eggleton, juniors Jayden Brown and Riley Cruea, and sophomores Eli Miller and Jenna Goddard.
In addition, each year six students are also labeled as “county winners,” whose tests will be sent to the American Legion 7th District and potentially to the American Legion Department of Ohio for additional judging that could reward the students further for their answers. This year Miami Trace had three of the county winners: Eggleton, Brown and Goddard. Eggleton additionally was named the overall county winner.
All student winners received an American Legion Lapel Pin, a ball point pen compliments of the Fayette County Veterans’ Service Commission, a certificate of achievement and a $50 gift card to McDonald’s courtesy of Nick Epifano, owner/operator of McDonald’s of Fayette County, and other small prizes. The six county winners received a $75 gift card to McDonald’s and the highest score received a $100 card.
Miami Trace students then went on to honor their special veteran for this year, Glenn Rankin. Rankin sat for an interview with students to answer questions about his life. While accompanied by pictures of Rankin’s service and a video of a funeral with a military ceremony with Rankin in the Fayette County Honor Guard, students read a biography that included the following:
“Mr. Rankin was born May 12, 1944,” a student read. “He attended and graduated Jeffersonville High School in 1962. About three years later, in 1965, he enlisted in the Air Force — the Ohio Air National Guard to be exact. Mr. Rankin can be described as someone who loves and values his work and someone who is also very dedicated to his country as he served for 30 years, three months and 17 days. As a child, Mr. Rankin was heavily involved in the Boys Scouts of America and he is still involved even now, totaling over 50 years in service.”
The presentation finished by reading the names of the servicemen and women who also were students of Miami Trace High School or one of the schools prior to the formation of the district. Dozens of names were read and high school principal Bryan Sheets thanked Laura Hottinger and her production class for putting together the video, Helt for administering the Americanism and Government Test, and Fayette County veterans for their service to their country.
Within the Washington Court House City School District, Washington High School students honored veterans with a banner displayed thanking veterans for their service. Names of students who signed the banner were displayed next to it. Additionally, a small assembly was held to award the Americanism and Government Test winners at the school with Helt and Stahlsworth taking time to attend and give out the awards.
The winners were seniors Reilly Downing and Mika Ingram, juniors David Ogden and Loreli Taylor and sophomores Blake Walker and Marissa McNamee with Downing also being named a county winner.
Students at Cherry Hill Primary School also participated in the celebration of veterans and their service with a tribute video on Wednesday. During the video, pictures of veterans were shown, and students had the chance to thank the veterans and perform songs for them.
Finally, also held on Wednesday was the Fayette Christian School (FCS) Americanism and Government Test award winners presentation. Once again six students were honored for their test scores, including senior Cherokee Lofino, juniors Emily Barker and Zander Ivey, and sophomores Ryleigh Tooill and Nate Crichton. Barker and Critchton were also further honored as county winners.
Following the presentation, the senior girls on behalf of all the FCS students gave a tray of cookies and student-made “thank you” cards to share with veterans.
The information in this article was provided by Miami Trace Local Schools, Washington Court House City Schools, Fayette Christian School and Americanism and Government Test Chairman Ed Helt.
Reach Martin Graham on Twitter @MartiTheNewsGuy.