COVINGTON --Honoring veterans will take center stage in most schools in Newton County on Friday.
Several schools have planned events to recognize Veterans Day and those who serve in the U.S. armed forces."Our veterans sacrificed for the safety and freedom of our country and others. Whether on our own soil or in a foreign land, they fought for freedom, with some paying the ultimate price," said Sherri Davis-Viniard, director of public relations for the Newton County School System. "The men and women in uniform today continue to give of themselves to defend our country and our freedom. They all have honored us through their service and devotion to this country and it's important we do the same for them. In Newton County Schools, our schools and our students do that every year with numerous Veterans Day events and celebrations."Veterans Memorial Middle School is planning to dedicate most of the day Friday to honoring former and current service members. All of the students and teachers are asked to wear red and the names of family members who are veterans will be scrolled continuously throughout the day on the internal television station, according to sixth-grade social studies teacher Michael Bigby.
Principal James Peek will read a short statement about the significance of Veterans Day and how the school received its name. Students will be led in the singing of the National Anthem and band members will play Taps.
Friday is an early release day for Newton County schools, so during one of the three academic periods before lunch, students will hear from Bigby, who served in the U.S. Army and in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, and Peek who spent more than 20 years in the U.S. Navy and was deployed to Afghanistan. Younger veterans have also been invited to speak about their recent experience in the military. The presentation will be filmed and rebroadcast throughout the school during the last hour of the school day.
At Cousins Middle School, the names of current and past service personnel who are connected to the school's faculty, staff and students will be read aloud throughout the morning. Classes will be invited to the school's foyer to hear the reading of the names and view the identities of soldiers who have or who are serving in the military.
Some Newton County school students will take part in the community-wide celebration on the Square in Covington. The Eastside brass band will perform Friday morning and the Marine Corps Junior ROTC Color Guard from Newton High School will present the colors for the celebration at 11 a.m. The Color Guard will also serve as ushers for veterans who will partake in honorary meals offered to veterans by Applebee's restaurant.
The Junior National Beta Club at Liberty Middle School has teamed up with the Atlanta Veterans Administration Hospital to provide care packages for the more than 200 extended-stay patients there. Students are asked to decorate and fill shoeboxes with personal items, games, puzzles and other gifts. The boxes will be delivered next week during a dedication ceremony held at the VA Hospital.
The following is a breakdown of some of the various Veterans Day events that Newton County public school students will participate in:
-- Clements Middle School will have a special recognition on Monday, Nov. 14, when 1st Sgt. Lynn Goodrich, the husband of seventh-grade teacher Karen Cash, speaks to the school's social studies classes about Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq;
-- Cousins Middle School faculty and staff will read aloud the names of current and past service members who are connected to students and employees of the school;
-- Eastside High School's brass band will perform at 11 a.m. on the Square in Covington;
-- Liberty Middle School will collect and decorate shoeboxes filled with gift items for patients at the Atlanta VA Hospital;
-- Live Oak Elementary School's third-grade classes will perform a Veterans Day program Friday that honors all veterans, particularly those who are friends and family of Live Oak 's staff and parents;
-- Mansfield Elementary School will hold a Veterans Day celebration ceremony that includes a music provided by the school's chorus and a march to Carmel Cemetery to place flags on the graves there;
-- Newton High School's Junior ROTC will present colors at the Covington-Newton County Veterans Day celebration on the Square. The JROTC will also serve as ushers for veterans who enjoy complimentary meals at Applebee's.
-- Rocky Plains Elementary School's After School Program will host Lights On Afterschool from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. The students will create arts and crafts that commemorate men and women in the armed services;
-- Veterans Memorial Middle School will honor veterans throughout the day Friday with special recognitions and guest speakers.