On November 11, Veterans Day, Willowbrook School Principal Dr. Scott Carlson with Wescott School Principal Dr. Chris Brown, Wescott first-grade teacher Sharon Latek, and the Willowbrook fifth-grade Spirit Committee welcomed the District 30 audience to a virtual Veterans Day assembly featuring veterans First Lieutenant Michael Beslow and Lance Corporal James Specker.
Mr. Beslow served as a First Lieutenant in the U.S. Army, and Mr. Specker served as Lance Corporal in the U.S. Marine Corps. He is a friend of Willowbrook's first-grade teacher Aimee Neumann and served from 1993-1997 in a peacekeeping mission in Bosnia.
Mr. Beslow is a Willowbrook graduate and has a son, Lucas Beslow, who is a first-grader at the school. He was part of Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2007-2008, as a medical services helicopter pilot.
During the assembly, there was a beautiful performance of "America the Beautiful" by the fourth and fifth-grade orchestra with Orchestra teacher Lexi Barrett, and Wescott students sang a very special song honoring veterans, led by Music teacher Quentin Coaxum.
Veteran Specker was the first to answer questions about his past service, which were posed by students during the assembly.
“My mission in trying to bring peace to a region helped make me brave, more patient, to have integrity, and to be a more effective communicator. My experiences in the Marines improved my decision-making, and I am more open to other people’s perspectives."
Luke Beslow asked his father about what his job involved as a helicopter pilot/medic in Iraq.
He replied, "I learned many different skills, like being a better leader, working with and supporting people, and how to be a good person. As an aviation officer and medivac pilot, I had a number 15A. If anyone got hurt in Iraq, military or civilian, the U.S. Army helicopter took him/her to the hospital.”
In addition, Sharon Latek thanked Wescott and Willowbrook Schools for their participation and support of Honor Flight and the Square 1 Art fundraiser. Since 2005, the mission of Honor Flight is to transport America’s veterans to Washington, D.C. to visit the memorials dedicated to honoring those who have served and sacrificed for our country.
She spoke of how she is a member of Honor Flight and is also involved in new subgroups, “Operation Education (involving teachers),” and “Operation Climb (a teen group)”, which her daughter Jayne Latek has been involved, following her mother’s footsteps! Square 1 Art supports veterans by encouraging the creation and distribution of cards of appreciation for servicemen and women everywhere.
“The purpose of these organizations is to make sure that our veterans are thanked not just on Veterans Day, but every day! I am so proud of our students for making thank you cards for our veterans!” said Ms. Latek.
Dr. Carlson thanked everyone for coming to the assembly, and to remember to show our veterans the appreciation and honor that they deserve.
Superintendent Dr. Brian Wegley shared, "I am proud of Wescott and Willowbrook's joint Veterans Day Assembly to pay respect and say 'thank you' to our brave veterans. Thank you to Mr. James Specker, Mr. Michael Beslow, and all who have served our great nation in our armed forces."