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Smith Elementary Students Honor Veterans in Patriotic Program (November, 2005)

Smith Elementary Chior

Becky Wood, choir director for Smith Elementary, leads her students in patriotic song.

Military Flag Presentation

Military representatives perform flag presentation and folding ceremony as part of Veterans Day program. From left, Marine Sgt. Jeremy Shirley, Air Force Lt. Col. James Hubbard, Coast Guard Lt. Commander Vyarl Martin, and Navy HM2 SEAL Jason Kanz escort the flag through the halls of Smith Elementary.

Flag Folding

Representatives of all five military branches perform flag folding ceremony at Veterans Day ceremony at Smith Elementary.

Veterans from all branches of service, male and female, young and old, sharing memories of times of peace and times of war, gathered at Smith Elementary to be honored for their service to the United States.

The Smith Elementary Veterans Day program has grown from a simple school function into a community event that draws people from all over Frisco and from out –of-state. Grandparents, aunts, uncles and parents who served in various branches of military service attended the event, standing proudly as their names were called. The walls of Smith Elementary were papered with small memorials honoring those who served. The school also featured a display of authentic military uniforms that span the years since the Revolutionary War.

The event has grown and is organized by Assistant Principal Stevie Pudik, who was familiar with a similar program in another district. Pudik describes the ceremony as act of love to honor her own father and all veterans. Pudik also praised choir director Becky Wood and a teacher Nancy Jones for working on the music and slide show.

Pudik worked very hard to make sure that all branches were represented. This year’s event featured selected patriotic songs by the school choir, a performance by Ann Johnson, niece of the country-western singing group the Gatlin Brothers and the mother of a Smith Elementary kindergarten student, and special recitations by Smith students including a moving piece about the flag done by student Eric Smith. A cornerstone of the event was the special flag folding ceremony by representatives of the five branches of service. The servicemen carefully folded a flag with military precision while Pudik read out the virtue each fold stands for; the flag was presented it to Smith Principal Matt Kimball.

Kimball said the event was a memorable experience for both the students and the veterans. “Besides showing their respect and honor for the veterans, students are able to see a veteran and connect meaning to what they have learned about Veterans Day.”

The servicemen who attended the event and performed the flag ceremony were Lt. Col. James Hubbard of the U.S. Air Force, Army Sgt. Bryan Benson, HM2 SEAL Jason Kanz of the Navy, Sgt. Jeremy Shirley of the Marines and Lt. Commander Vyarl Martin of the Coast Guard.

Dr. Rick Reedy, Frisco Independent School District superintendent, addressed the veterans and quoted from one of his favorite songs, “I’m Proud to be an American” by singing artist Lee Greenwood. He noted that like the song he would be proud to stand beside the many veterans at the event who had defended our nation. He also said that he discovered at the event that David Boles, former Smith principal and now Personnel Coordinator for the district, was a former marine. Reedy noted that the Marines offered “good training for principals.”

Smith Elementary made a real effort to reach as many veterans in the community and related to Frisco residents as possible. Bill Fomby, father of James Fomby of Frisco and grandfather of Curtsinger students Garrett and Lauren Fomby, traveled from Hamblin, Texas, to attend the event with his family. Fomby was serving on the USS Oklahoma at Pearl Harbor on that fateful morning of December 7, 1941. He has a special cap that honors the fact that he is a Pearl Harbor survivor. When Fomby stood to be honored and it was noted that he remained in the service through the year 1947 – many of the members of the audience nodded their heads in acknowledgement of the fact that he served throughout the whole of World War II.

The event was attended by several members of the FISD school board and members of the Frisco City Council.

Many other FISD schools are following Smith Elementary School’s example, decorating walls of honor and having special ceremonies to teach student’s the importance of honoring those who have protected our country.