Chatham Charter resumed hosting its annual campus veterans event on Tuesday morning, November 9, 2021 after having to cancel the 2020 event due to the pandemic.
The day began at 7:00am with volunteers lining the school driveway with American flags to welcome guests, families and staff. At 8:30am guests were treated to a meet and greet reception before fanning out across the campus to interact with students.
One group of veterans visited elementary classrooms and read military-themed books to the students. Topics included caring for families, veterans who work in the community, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and military dogs. Several classes also chose to study other aspects of American history or the military as an extension of the special event.
Middle school students had activity-based stations, videos sent from military personnel and veterans, and guest speakers who all highlighted parts of military life. The outdoor activity stations included a litter carry, PT, flag folding, survival shelters, basic first aid, and exploring the phonetic alphabet with walkie-talkies.
Through rotating sessions with high school students, a third group of guests shared their military experiences and how they have been able to use skills learned in the military in civilian jobs. Like the middle school students, the high school students also had access to videos created by active duty personnel and veterans. Several Chatham Charter alumni who are now serving in the military also contributed videos.
Afterwards, there was a ceremony on the baseball field attended by guests and upper grades. The Eastern Randolph High School Junior ROTC opened with the Presentation of Colors. Following the National Anthem performed by the school band and the Pledge of Allegiance led by sophomore Scout Seph Trageser, veterans were recognized by their military branches. The school also recognized its graduates who are active duty military personnel. As the ceremony ended, the band played a medley of patriotic songs entitled Let Freedom Ring.
“We are always appreciative of the many guests who volunteer their time to participate in our veterans event. Students get so much out of the experience and give us great feedback year after year,” said Dr. John Eldridge, Head of School.
While the campus driveway was lined with American flags to welcome guests to Chatham Charter for the event, the flags also served as a gesture of remembrance.
“We lost one of our students, Jeremiah York, in a vehicle accident 2½ years ago. Jeremiah set a great example of service and love of country that we wanted to continue. In the fall of 2019 students, families, staff, and community members purchased the flags as a fundraiser that provided two $500 scholarships to members of his graduating class this past May. It was special to have members of his family and people from the school help line the driveway once again with those flags. We refer to the effort as a JEYVI project. JEYVI is an acronym for the Jeremiah Enoch York Volunteer Initiative,” explained Beth McCullough, one of the event organizers.