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HJHS honors veterans at annual program

Hundreds of attendees stood in silence while the Hartselle Junior High School band played “Sounds of Sousa” and veterans from all branches entered the gym during the annual Veterans Day program Nov. 9.

Men and women from the Coast Guard, Air Force, Army, Navy and Marine Corps – people who have served in nearly every conflict from present time back to the Korean War – were recognized and honored during the event.

Principal Rocky Smith said David Giambrone, the school’s choir director and the emcee of the event, and Ryan Nix, the HJHS band director, worked with a team to put the event together.

“Even though we had new faces in place, they were carrying the torch after 25 years of history here,” Smith said. “They did a great job.”

As part of the event, students read essays they had written for veterans in their lives, and a band and chorus collaboration entertained the crowd with a rendition of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

Smith said the event begins at the grassroots level, with those invited having a connection to students at the school.

“Our students bring in names and addresses of veterans who are special to them,” he said. “It’s made to be personal and relative to our student body – and a learning experience for them, as well.”

Student tributes were led by Ella Kate Anderson, Abigail Pruitt, Brett Hatfield, Kamryn Sparkman, Aiden Wright and Kennedy Vest.

The Hartselle Civil Air Patrol, under the direction of Col. Brian Williams, presented the service flags and the colors in sober formation.

The HJHS chorus performed renditions of the official songs of each branch of the U.S. military, while veterans stood to raucous applause.

As a new addition to the annual program, students from the Riley Resource Center learned to sign “God Bless America” and performed the song at the beginning of the event.

A moment of silence followed the events festivities, as well as a playing of taps.