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Middle school students honor vets in celebratory assembly

As students, parents, family and veterans flooded into the Snoqualmie Middle School gym for a Veterans Day assembly, each one was given a poppy flower, a symbol the military has used for hope and peace.

Rene Peterson’s fifth period seventh grade class hosted this year’s Veterans Day assembly, where over a dozen veterans were honored.

Opening with an official flag ceremony, students presented their knowledge of color guard commands and routine.

Following the routine and a performance of the national anthem by the Snoquamlie Middle School band, the gym transformed into a field of poppies.

Reciting Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae’s poem, “In Flanders Field,” attendees held their poppy flowers high in recognition of the veterans who put their lives at risk.

“In Europe, soldiers fought in big fields. After the battles, the ground would be churned up, allowing wild poppies to put down roots and start growing,” one of Peterson’s students explained. “Thousands would bloom after war.”

Student knowledge and presentation during the flag and poppy ceremonies left Snoqualmie School District alumnus and veteran Lena Morrill amazed.

“The education and discussion that had to go into making the poppies was phenomenal,” she said.

It was also remarkable to her that the schools go to great lengths so young people understand the flag procedures.

To honor the veterans present at the celebration, Snoqualmie Middle School gave each one a plaque recognizing their service and sacrifice.

Veterans included Rick Woodruff, Douglas Bickler, Bert Rainey, Lena Morrill, Ed Arabas, Leon Hill, Steve Myers, Matt Cooper, Steve Montag, Annie Mac, Lee Burns, Art Farash and Rich Collingwood.

Snoqualmie Middle School staff also included veterans Gary Moen and Jerry Hillburn.

Guest speaker Douglas Bickler, who served in the U.S. Army and Navy for nearly 25 years, shared with the students the experiences, sacrifices and benefits he received in service.

Bickler was able to visit and assist in far-off places such as Kenya, Columbia, the Philippines, Japan, Australia, Thailand, Great Britain and many U.S. states.

“Each country I visited represented the United States of America and how they tried to help in any way they could,” Bickler said.

This is a time for him to remember those he had served with, the good and bad times, the friendships, the places they had been and experiences they shared.

Before closing their ceremony, Woodruff and Collingwood helped the students with a National Flag retirement presentation.

Thanking the veterans in attendance, a final performance of Taps was performed by Snoqualmie Middle School instructor Dean Snavely.

“I’m really impressed with what this school district is doing for Veterans Day,” Morrill said. “I think we’re going above and beyond to try and reconnect our kids with what the military is really about, serving your country peacefully in many ways.”

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