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High School Students Offer Salute To Veterans
Escalon student David Ingles talks with Army recruiter Jovan Coleman, out of the Manteca recruiting office, during a special program hosted Thursday, Nov. 9 by the Escalon High School Fire Science/EMT class, saluting veterans and their service.

Times Photos By Marg Jackson

A special assembly, a unique display and some words of wisdom … all combined to form a Veterans Day observance on the campus of Escalon High School on Thursday, Nov. 9.

School was closed on Friday, Nov. 10 so the special programs were staged on Thursday. They included a morning assembly that featured music by the EHS band and choir, as well as a flag folding ceremony and information about the 13 folds of the flag, conducted by the Escalon American Legion Gustafson-Thompson Post 263. Also taking the microphone was Tonia Reyes, an Army veteran, who, along with her husband Sal, retired from the service.

Reyes said she served in the “oldest and largest branch” of the military, the Army, which can trace its roots back to the Continental Army that was established in 1775.

“I served 20 years in the U.S. Army, I joined my first year in college so I could be a part of something bigger than myself,” she told the students. “I wanted stability, guidance, structure, discipline, education and I knew I had more to offer to the world. I wanted to be a part of something that meant more than what most people would experience in their lifetime and in mine.”

Chronicling her journey through the military, the various posts she held, and the solid base it provided for her, she also told the students that they are part of something bigger, whether they play on a sports team, in the band, or in a community service club.

She also conducted a T-shirt toss, with some students in the crowd inside the main gym going home with a new shirt.

Following the program in the gym, members of the Escalon Fire Science/EMT class hosted a special display in the Performing Arts Center, showcasing America’s various wars, highlighting veterans’ service and sacrifice.

Junior David Ingles was one of those involved in putting together a display on the Vietnam War.

“Any veteran that comes through, we just want them to know their sacrifice is known, we know what they have done for us and we know the freedoms they have made available to us,” he said. “We’re young kids so we haven’t been able to sacrifice … so this is our way of saying thank you.”

Fellow junior Christian Becerra helped create the Global War on Terror display.

“We just talked about 9-11 and then how the planes crashed into the Twin Towers caused a war,” Becerra said. “We’re just hoping to show our appreciation to the veterans and just show that we care.”

U.S. Army recruiter Jovan Coleman, out of the Manteca recruiting office, said seeing the displays was interesting and he was glad to support the students.

“I think it’s great,” Coleman said. “It’s very well put together.”

He has previously deployed to Kuwait and Iraq and also had two other overseas deployments to Korea and has been in the Army for 12 years.

Sophomore Logan Huebner, junior Josue Ruiz and junior Cody Brown worked to put together a ‘Special Forces’ display.

“Special Forces is pretty hard because they’re very classified,” Ruiz admitted of trying to portray the topic accurately. He said each branch of the military has its own special forces, with specific tasks for each.

Jacob Augusto, a junior, said ultimately, it all comes down to respect for those that have served.

“We’re thankful for everything they’ve done for our country,” Augusto said.

Guest speaker for the Thursday morning Veterans Day assembly at Escalon High School was Army veteran Tonia Reyes, who greeted students at the conclusion of the program offering a smile and a candy for those who chose to take one.
Part of the special Thursday morning assembly to observe Veterans Day on the EHS campus was a flag folding ceremony staged by the Escalon American Legion Gustafson-Thompson Post.