Carson Middle School saluted Veterans Day on Thursday with a concert, welcoming local veteran families and staff for a tradition that has been adapted throughout the years.
Briana Valley, choir and musical director, said the 23rd annual concert first started as a flag retirement ceremony in 1999 but it has been converted into a concert.
“We’re tributing it to veterans in the area and all over the world by singing veterans songs, songs that are about the meaning of veterans appreciation,” Valley said. “We invite local community members to come and join us for the concert. We do concerts all year round for parents at night, but this one is during the day and we pair it with the eighth-grade students’ Great Stake Out.”
Valley said the tradition is an honor for her as a Carson Middle alumna and with a history of U.S. military service in her own family.
“Both of my grandparents were in the Navy, and I was a CMS student and I participated in very first flag ceremony in 1999,” she said. “This is my favorite concert of the year.”
Valley’s choir students performed “Danny Boy,” “This is America” and “Tribute to the Armed Services” to honor members of the individual branches, among other songs. The school’s orchestra also performed.
After the concert inside, the students went outside for one last song at the flagpole on the front lawn, where family members and friends could enjoy the signs students had made demonstrating their research of relatives or role models who have served in the armed branches.
On the front law, the school’s eighth grade classes presented placards as part of their “Great Stake Out,” demonstrating the research they completed on veterans whether they were family members, friends, historical figures or celebrities they admired, for Veterans Day.
Noah Sever, eighth grader, interviewed family friend David Aunkst, a Navy veteran who served for eight years as an electronics technician first class and a reactor operator on a nuclear submarine. Sever said he enjoyed the assignment for the opportunity to learn things about Aunkst he never knew before.
Aunkst said he was based in Hawaii but operated out of Guam.
“I think it’s really important (to honor veterans),” he said. “I think we don’t want to lose the tradition for the kids, to forget what the veterans have done for the country. I think we’re kind of getting away from that, and I think it’s an important thing for people in school to thank the veterans and realize what they did.”
Aunkst asked Sever before he had to return to class if he would like to join him in the Reno Veterans Day parade Friday, which Sever said he would consider. Aunkst said he belongs to a local submarine veterans group that had entered a float for the Reno event.
“We do most of the parades in the area,” he said.
Asked how he entered the service in the 1960s, he said he was in high school at the time.
“A friend of the family was a Navy recruiter, and I knew I’d be going into the service anyway,” Aunkst said. “That was before the lottery, and they were drafting a lot of people. So I figured I’d get into something a little more interesting. It turned out to be a great time in the service.”
Superintendent Andrew Feuling, observing the events at CMS, said he was excited to see the students apply their efforts into acknowledging and celebrating the community’s veterans.
“This community has a lot of gratitude for what our veterans have done for our country,” Feuling said. “I’m excited to see so many of them here today able to enjoy that recognition. It’s certainly the least we can do for all of their service.”
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