On any given morning, you will find students walking into school ready to learn, catching up with classmates and reviewing answers to questions that may appear on an exam later in the day. However, for students who participate in student council, their lessons were learned before the first bell even rang. On Thursday, November 10, these students welcomed more than 20 veterans to Mead Middle School. Veterans, students and teachers sat down to enjoy a warm breakfast together, while learning about what it means to serve our country. “It is important for our students to personally connect with people that have made sacrifices for their country, said Josh Barnett, principal of Mead Middle School, we want to make a face to face connection for our children.”
These men and women, from all branches of the military, spoke about the memories and experiences they had when they were serving the United States. Bob Gerle, a retired Chief Warrant Officer from the United States Navy talked about spending his time deep underwater in a submarine, reading and writing letters to and from his new bride, and being stationed all over. Although the specifics of his missions still remain classified, he was a part of both the Commander Submarine Pacific and the Commander Submarine Atlantic.
Through many conversations Breanna Bliss, a seventh grade student at Mead Middle learned about the different branches of military, and she began to understand the scope of all of the different jobs that are involved throughout the armed forces. “It was quite amazing to hear about all the jobs in the military that are overlooked,” said Bliss.
While individual conversations were impactful, after the first period bell rang a group of students stayed behind to clean up the cafeteria, but ended up receiving a lesson in history. Ernest Covington, a retired Master Sergeant from the United States Army sat down with these 10 students to discuss the trench combat of World War I, Roosevelt sailing the Navy fleet around the world, the naming of battleships and peaceful psychological operations on how to scare the enemy. “I was an old man in Vietnam at the age of 21,” said Covington. This conversation painted a picture that cannot be captured or relayed in a text book.
The appreciation from this event was flowing in both directions. The student council members were honored to recognize these veterans and you could see the sense of pride that the guest veterans had as they talked about their time serving the United State of America. “I was shocked to learn that veterans did not always feel appreciated, said Ian Schillinger, a seventh grader at Mead Middle, and that they did not get this very often.” This event was important on many levels and it helped students to see that even if we do not share the same ideas, experiences and viewpoints, we can still be united as a community.
Bliss and Schillinger both joined student council so they can give back. While working with classmates for the past year, they planned and thought out every detail for this event. Mead’s Student Council works on community service projects in and outside of the school. “It is important for me, as an educator, to make sure my students have access to information and ideas. I also think that understanding the value of service as it applies to the community in which they live is critical for developing a sense of citizenship,” said Mary Shaffer, a seventh grade social studies and English teacher at Mead Middle.
How do you say thank you in just one day, you can not, but the lessons learned from this service learning project will carry forward with these students as they plan for what’s next. Schillinger wants to start a breakfast tradition at Mead High, and Bliss wants to find ways to get involved with the local community and more ways to help those who have served our country. These timeless lessons and conversations have truly made an impression on many students at Mead Middle School.