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PENNS MANOR: Students salute those who served in the military

by By CLAIRE KIRSCH, Gazette Student News Reporter on November 15, 2013 10:50 AM

KENWOOD — Since the start of the school year, the students of Penns Manor High School have been busy. The school year started off with Yellow Ribbon Week for suicide prevention. Students received yellow ribbons and were encouraged to wear yellow throughout the week of Sept. 9-13 to show their support for the cause.

Guidance counselors Lisa Donatelli and Joseph Packer hosted assemblies with the various grade levels on Friday, Sept. 13. Keynote speakers Steve and Cindy Vrana were also in attendance to show their support for the Yellow Ribbon program at Penns Manor.

Next, the SADD organization, under adviser Lisa Donatelli, hosted Red Ribbon Week.

The week of Sept. 21-25 was filled with a series of themed days for students to show their support for a drug-free lifestyle. Monday’s theme was to wear red; Tuesday’s theme was favorite sport team day; Wednesday was neon day; Thursday was cowboy boots, camo and flannel day; and Friday was Comet Spirit Day.

In addition to the theme days, Ghost-Out Day was also held. This event is held to make the statistic of drunk and impaired driving more realistic for students. Throughout the day, announcements were made every 53 minutes about students who had been fictitiously killed in drunk-driving related accidents. The students were taken from their classroom by the Grim Reaper, and a red ribbon was then placed on their desk. These students then had their faces painted white and were “ghosts.” These “ghosts” had to remain silent for the rest of the day. This event helps make the reality of the results of drunk driving more predominant in the lives of teenagers.

Most recently Penns Manor hosted its annual Salute to Our American Veterans Day assembly. On Nov. 8, the students of Penns Manor High School and the veterans of the community gathered to pay tribute to the men and women who fight for our freedom. The presentation and posting of the colors was done by Clymer Legion Post 222 while the Penns Manor marching band performed “Bravura,” by Charles E. Duble.

After the colors were posted, the volunteer firemen of Penns Manor led the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by the band’s performance of the national anthem.

Senior class president Meagen Hilty then welcomed the guests and introduced Kim Bodek. Bodek is a teacher at Penns Manor, and a United States Marine. On Friday, she answered the question, “What is Veterans Day.” After her speech, student council president JT Horwat was introduced and read a poem written by Kelly Strong titled “Freedom Is Not Free.”

Following the poem, the band played a medley of military anthems.

The veterans in attendance were asked to stand and be acknowledged when the anthem of their service was played.

When the veterans took their seats the guest speakers were introduced. Christina Young, a 2008 graduate of Penns Manor, spoke of her memories of Penns Manor graduate Lance Cpl. Joshua Twigg.

Following Young’s speech, the Rev. James McCaulley, shared the story of his son, Sgt. 1st Class Randy D. McCaulley, who was killed by small arms fire in Al-Anbar province west of Baghdad on March 23, 2006.

McCaulley shared stories and stressed the reality of sacrifices made by veterans every day, so we might have the freedoms we enjoy today.

Also in attendance were special guests state Sen. Don White, state Rep. David Reed, state Rep. Jeff Pyle and Indiana County Sheriff Robert Fyock. Fyock led Boy Scouts Zac Horwat, Tom Hamilton and Clayton Stupic in a flag folding ceremony.

After describing the 13 folds and explaining their meaning, the folded flags were presented to Young and McCaulley.

The assembly was closed with the playing of taps by senior Claire Kirsch, and echoed by junior Abby Spiaggi.

The colors were retired by Clymer Legion Post 222 while the Penns Manor band played “Amazing Grace.”

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