Outside Smith Elementary, American flags line the sidewalks.
Inside, patriotic artwork and handwritten notes to veterans hang on the walls.
The school is home to one of Frisco ISD’s largest and longest-running Veterans Day celebrations. Each year, Smith hosts an assembly where students sing songs and read original work about service and love of country. Veterans in attendance are introduced one by one by name and military branch.
This year, Clark Middle School Counselor Janis Bennett, a former chapel manager in the Air Force, spoke about sacrifice and what service means to her.
“We want students to meet people who put their lives on the line for their opportunity,” said Smith Principal Catherine Young. “That human connection impacts kids more than what they read in a textbook. Real people that they can connect with really solidify that learning for them.”
Across the District, schools host similar events to honor veterans and welcome parents, grandparents and other students’ relatives who have served our country in the U.S. Armed Forces. Students decorate doors of teachers, administrators and other school staff who have served, among other activities. Many participate in the annual Frisco Community Parade, which honors veterans.
At Griffin Middle School, integrated language arts students wrote thank-you letters to staff members who previously served in the military. Anderson Elementary hosted a “Red, White and Blue Boot Camp” during PE class and invited veterans to run stations testing students’ strength, agility and overall physical fitness.
Among those on hand at Smith Elementary was Don Capps, grandfather of two students and a former petty officer second class with the U.S. Navy. He was responsible for maintaining machinery and generating oxygen aboard a submarine during the final years of the Cold War.
“What I did in the service was a service, it was a gift,” he said. “It means something to have people thank you for something that you never asked for thanks for.”
Still, he’s glad Frisco ISD schools host events like the assembly at Smith to educate students about history and sacrifice.
“For me, it is teaching kids community,” he said. “The military is an important part of our community and our culture.”
For staff at Smith, it’s a way to give back and ensure future generations never forget.
“It’s more than just awareness and knowledge,” Young said. “We want students to have that level of understanding of the impact veterans have had on their lives so they can show respect and not take things for granted.”