NORMAN — The message of Thursday’s Veterans Day assembly at Truman Elementary was that a simple “thank you” is all it takes, but Truman Primary and Elementary students went the extra mile expressing gratitude and respect for veterans.
Incorporating song, poetry and a look into the United States’ military history and the history of Veterans Day, Truman’s assembly was a touching and heartfelt gesture of thanks and admiration for those who have and are currently serving our country.
“What I’m here to tell you today is that this is America, and you can grow up and be whoever you want to be,” guest speaker 1st Lt. Jeffery Archer Jr., a veteran of Afghanistan, said to Truman students. “In this country, we have the freedom and the liberty to do that, and in a lot of places, people don’t.”
Joining the student bodies of both schools were parents and some 40 veterans, as well as Norman Mayor Cindy Rosenthal and Representative Scott Martin. Live music was provided by Norman Public Schools Band coordinator Roger Nunn and the Boulevard Brass Quintet: Will Bishop, Juff Curtain, Logan Fish, Daryl Nagode and Mervin Tay.
Fourth-grade teacher and assembly organizer Kim Schooler has coordinated the assembly for nine years, successfully establishing Veterans Day as one of great significance for Truman Elementary and Truman Primary students.
“I think it’s so important to teach patriotism and love of country and recognize the service of these men and women so our students understand where their freedoms come from and how they continue,” Schooler said. “We need to know our history and our heritage because knowing these things is how we make tomorrow better.”
Though the assembly was driven by student participation, parents, teachers and grandparents were part of the event as well.
“This is our biggest assembly, combining the students from both schools and inviting parents and grandparents, and every year it seems the students do an even better job of participating and paying attention,” Principal Robye Kay Jackson said.
A special aspect of this year’s assembly, Jackson said, was the use of intelligent classroom technology to send videos to Truman Primary, so all the students in attendance could sing and learn hand gestures to Celine Dion’s rendition of “God Bless America,” a stirring moment during the assembly.
“My hope for these students is that they might know a veteran in their neighborhood or church community, recognize the importance of telling them ‘thank you’ and viewing them as great role models,” Schooler said.