School ceremony honors, thanks veterans

SOLANA BEACH — In a poignant ceremony held as the nation mourned 13 people killed at Fort Hood Army post — and the day after the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall — Santa Fe Christian Schools paid tribute Nov. 10 to the men and women who serve our country during the 12th annual Veterans Day celebration.
“We are here today to honor those who protect our rights, our freedom and our way of life,” Headmaster Tom Bennett said during his opening remarks to local veterans, their guests, students, faculty and staff. “This program is our way to say thank you for serving us.”
With Ryan O’Rourke, senior class president, serving as master of ceremonies, the hour-long event showcased the talent of students from grades one through 12. Hannah Ippolito sang the national anthem. Joshua Turner of Cub Scout Pack 798 led the Pledge of Allegiance. Isaac Trotta, Michael Leveque and Jordan Prater, also from Pack 798, gave a flag-folding demonstration.
Seventh-grader Lindsay Park and junior Olivia Gardner read their original poems, titled “Soldiers” and “Thank You,” respectively. The Eagles regiment band played the marches of the Armed Forces, and a student-produced video montage of war footage by Brent Timm and Josh Mangus was shown.
Various choirs sang “God Bless America,” “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” and “Song for the Unsung Hero.”
Keynote speaker Cmdr. Jon-Paul LaBruzzo, a Navy veteran of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, challenged students to “serve something larger than yourselves” by volunteering in their community, church or school or considering a career in public service or the military.
LaBruzzo, whose daughter attends Santa Fe Christian, said he joined the Navy because he wanted to fly jets. “It was all about me,” he said. “But eventually I realized it was all about serving God, my family and my country.
“We stand tall indeed because of the extraordinary service and courageous selflessness of our veterans,” he said.
As they left, veterans received a CD of music by the Santa Fe Christian choirs and band. Items collected in a schoolwide food drive will be donated to Camp Pendleton.

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