Rancho Viejo Middle School thanks veterans for their service

Hemet Unified School District
Local veterans enjoy a barbecue lunch provided by Rancho Viejo Middle School in honor of Veterans Day.

■ Chronicle News Service

Over the summer, Rancho Viejo Middle School Principal Jonathan Workman and ASB Director Stacy Ciampa discussed creating an event to honor those that have served our great country. This idea snowballed into a heartfelt event that had an impact on the entire campus.
Staff invited local veterans to Rancho Viejo Middle School for a barbecue luncheon to honor them and the sacrifices they have made. Staff reached out to the local American Legion post, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Elks Lodge, and also asked students to invite the veterans in their families to participate, said Alex Sponheim, HUSD public information officer.
Staff bought and cooked hot dogs and hamburgers and all of the fixings; they also provided drinks and dessert. ASB students helped decorate the school’s multipurpose room, served the veterans food, and cleaned up their tables. In addition, the veterans received a heart-warming surprise from the students.
Prior to the event, students were asked to write a letter to a veteran, thanking them for their freedom and the sacrifices they made; they also detailed how the plan to use their freedom.
Thirty-five students were asked to read their letter in front of the veterans at the event. Ciampa said she saw some of the veterans’ eyes begin to water as the students read their thank you letters.
After the barbecue, Bill Harrison, a Navy veteran, went to the Yes I Can class and the Peer Leaders Uniting Students (PLUS) class to speak about his experiences in the military. He described how his ship sank and he was stranded at sea for six days. Staff said that students were very quiet and attentive throughout his entire speech, and that they could tell what an impact it made on the students.
“Today was a day to thank us for our service,” said Matthew Casey, president of Hemet’s American Legion Post 53. “But today we are leaving thankful for having such generous and thoughtful students who have taken the time to honor us.”

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