Unique performances, speakers combine to honor veterans in convocation

A convocation celebrating Veterans Day brought together FHS students and staff along with veterans in the area to gather in the Burkley Fine Arts Center on Monday, November 12. With speakers representing National Honor Society and joint performances by the school’s band and vocal units leading the way, veterans past and present were respectably honored one day after Veterans Day.

Combined for a unique experience, Band and Vocal members performed various service songs at the beginning of the convo and in the middle. A different piece was performed for each branch of the military. When each branch was being represented, those who served or had a loved one who served in that respective area would stand. Coordinating these elements required careful planning and hours of practice.


Vocal members Janessa Swanda ’19, Michaela Buchli ’19, Addison Parrack ’21, and Riley Specht ’19 join Jordan Tracy ’21, Julie Johnson ’21, and Taylea Mills ’19 in their group performance. A song for each branch of the military was performed along with an entrance piece at the beginning of the convo. Photo by M. Lierman

“We [the band] utilized our class rehearsal time for two weeks prior to the performance and we communicated closely with Mr. [Joseph] Fitzgerald, Mr. [Nicholas] Kroon, and Mr. [Derek] Anderson to work with the choir and make sure we had the correct songs and order of songs for the performance,” trumpet player Isaac Robertson ’19 said. “I really enjoyed playing the service songs because I think the veterans really enjoyed it.”

Another school organization helping with the convo was National Honor Society. Various members spoke throughout the hour to honor veterans around the country and to share facts about the observance. Rusti Bassett ’19 had the role of recognizing veterans in the area.

“This is my second year speaking at the convo,” Bassett said. “Preparing wasn’t that hard. I know that I had butchered some words in that speech but I know that I did [the] best to my ability. I am normally not the person to ever go and speak in front of 200+ people, but I went up there and talked.”


National Honor Society member Taylea Mills ’19 speaks in front of students, staff, and veterans. Several NHS members made appearances at the podium on Monday. Photo by M. Lierman

Along with students, veterans Mark Schoenrock and Lyle Bartles also made appearances. They shared personal experiences and honored those who have served in the military and those who continue to serve.

“The most memorable thing about the convo was hearing the stories from the veterans themselves,” Bassett said. “For some people, it is not every day that they are able to hear about the stories that these men had to go through in order to give us the freedom that we had.”

An exact definition of Veterans Day varies from perspective to perspective. A common theme that arises is that it is a day in which those who have been an active service member at any point in their lives should be recognized for their work. For Robertson, the meaning of this observance is a little more personal.

“Veterans Day to me means honoring all the veterans who have served our country,” Robertson said. “My grandpa served in the Marines, so I have a personal connection. They do things for us that are unimaginable when they are fighting for our freedom, and I am thankful every day that we have people who are willing to fight for our us.”