After a brief hiatus in 2016, the school’s annual “Salute to Our Veterans” event has returned for its 12th year. Music teacher, Lisa Braren, led fifth grade students through a medley of patriotic songs and performances. Veterans, community members, and proud parents were all invited to attend the ceremony.
“It’s been a pleasure and an honor and it is truly my favorite performance of the year,” Braren said. “I’m sorry that we weren’t able to do it last year but it was such a pleasure to bring this back again.”
In preparation for the performance, the students rehearsed rigorously. Those with speaking parts came in early in the mornings to go over their lines. Though Hurricane Irma derailed some of their practice time, the show had to go on.The event began with the presentation of the colors by the Lely High School Jr. ROTC. TBE students were then tasked with performing patriotic classics such as the “Star Spangled Banner” and “This is My Country.” Longtime Marco Islander, Herb Savage joined the students in singing “God Bless America.”
The community outreach event allows elementary school students to interact with retired veterans. Its aim is to bring the two demographics closer together, forming bonds of understanding and mutual respect.
“Mrs. Braren has been so passionate about giving our kids the opportunity to interact with our community,” Principal Katie Maya said.During the event, the veterans in attendance introduced themselves to the children. They explained how long they were in the service and what their roles were.
Following the performance, the students were able speak with the retired service men and women. Some students gave thank you cards, while others simply thanked them for their service.
“We know how important this is to our community,” Maya said. “We love to showcase our kids and the amazing things that they do.”
Jory Westberry, former TBE principal who was in attendance, said that audience members were still in tears as they left the cafeteria. “Amazing program,” she heard one say. Another said, “This is what patriotism is all about, so glad our children are learning what it means and recognize the service of our men and women.”