Colorado Springs schools honoring veterans this week; some events open to public

By: Debbie Kelley

November 6, 2017 Updated: November 6, 2017 at 10:14 pm

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JROTC students conduct a flag-folding ceremony at last year’s Veterans Day observance at Mitchell HIgh School. Submitted photo.

Many schools in the Pikes Peak region have Veterans Day activities this week, and several events are open to the public.

Mitchell High School

When Lt. Col. Keith Woodfork started the Air Force Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps at Mitchell High School 17 years ago, a communitywide Veterans Day celebration was a natural fit.

The observance is still going strong, and so is the school’s JROTC program, with 350 cadets this year – one third of the school’s student body and the largest corps in the state.

“Why do we have so many people?” Woodfork repeats the question when asked about the popularity of his corps.

“Because this gives cadets an opportunity to be part of a team,” he answers. “They work with other cadets and learn leadership skills, give back to their community in a variety of different ways and develop character. It’s a citizenship program – we’re trying to make them better citizens for when they leave high school.”

This year’s event at Mitchell, in Colorado Springs School District 11, is themed “Bring Your Veteran to School.” It kicks off at 8 a.m. Friday, with a breakfast for students and accompanying veterans. Up to 100 veterans are expected to participate, Woodfork said.

A flag-raising and revelry will be held in front of the school at 8:45 a.m., followed by an all-school assembly at 9:30 a.m. The school’s band and choir will perform patriotic songs, and JROTC cadets will conduct flag-folding and POW/MIA ceremonies.

The JROTC color guard will hold ceremonies at elementary and middle schools Thursday and Friday, and cadets will visit retirement homes Saturday.

Woodfork said up to 25 percent of JROTC members advance into a military service branch. Four current Air Force Academy cadets are Mitchell High graduates, he said.

 

Ellicott High School

This is the 11th annual Veterans Day Appreciation in Ellicott School District 22, which encompasses Schriever Air Force Base.

About 30 percent of the district’s 1,000 students have ties to the military, said Laura Durst, executive administrative assistant.

The event is open to the public and usually draws up to 60 veterans and civilians from the community, she said.

This year’s keynote speaker is Col. Jennifer Grant, commander of the 50th Space Wing, of the Air Force Space Command at Schriever.

The event begins at 2:30 p.m. Thursday in the Ellicott High School gym, 375 S. Ellicott Highway.

“It’s grown, and we try to improve upon it every year to make it meaningful for our veterans in our community,” Durst said.

Anyone wishing to be recognized can contact Durst, 683-2700, ext. 4, or email lauradurst@esd22.org. Veterans do not have to be present.

The ceremony includes a presentation of the colors by High Frontier Honor Guard, veterans and active-duty military recognition for their service, musical performance by the U.S. Air Force Academy Band, the Ellicott High School Symphonic Band and Elementary Choir.

 

Fountain-Fort Carson School District 8

Fountain-Fort Carson School District 8 is the only local district that doesn’t hold school on the federally recognized holiday, which is Friday.

The district, with 75 percent of its 8,200 students connected to military, does so to “honor and celebrate our military families and students,” said spokeswoman Christy McGee. Fort Carson also is closed Friday.

Assemblies at elementary schools, a big observance at Carson Middle School, located on post, and a middle and high school choirs’ concert, “Songs for Service Members” at 7 p.m. at Fountain-Fort Carson High School, are planned.

Both schools also held a Flags for Families fundraiser, during which for $2, community members could purchase a flag that will be on display at the concert. Proceeds will benefit Mount Carmel Veterans Service Center.

 

Pikes Peak Community College

PPCC will hold free special events all week, culminating with a wreath dedication and Veterans Day ceremony with guest speaker Colorado Sen. Owen Hill at the Centennial Campus, 5675 S. Academy Blvd., on Friday.

Active-duty and veteran students comprise 26 percent of enrollment, said spokeswoman Karen Kovaly.

“The aim of Veterans Week is to show them and our community how important they are to the college and our country,” she said.

Friday’s finale starts with a community breakfast at 7:30 a.m. in the atrium of the Centennial Campus. The wreath dedication at the War Memorial outside C Building will begin at 10 a.m. Hill will speak at 10:30 a.m. in the theater. A Combat Paper and student art exhibit and reception will be held at 11:30 a.m. in the atrium.

Combat Paper workshops also will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at the Centennial Campus in the Grove.

Founded in 2007, Combat Paper turns old military uniforms into paper pulp so veterans and active-duty service members can preserve their memories.

Anyone interested in attending the workshops can email laura.benamots@ppcc.edu.

Women in the Military portraits will be on exhibit all week in the breezeway between the atrium and F Building at the Centennial Campus.

A community resource fair will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday in the Centennial atrium. Veteran-based community organizations will provide benefits, resources, services and social opportunities to veterans and their families.

 

The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs

The Office of Veteran and Military Student Affairs is hosting a comedy show that’s open to the public, 6:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m. Wednesday in Berger Hall. Comedian Vincent Oshana, who’s a veteran, will present “Combat to Comedy.”

No tickets are needed, but attendees will need to pay for parking on campus.

Other events this week include an art exhibit, Art of War, in the Heller Center, and participation in a 5K run Saturday at Monument Valley Park.

Registration is open to the public at www.runningguru.com/E1.asp?eID=27674.

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