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Highlands Honors Veterans at First District-Wide Veterans Day Celebration

November 2023

Highlands held its First Annual District-Wide Veterans Day Celebration on Friday, Nov. 10, 2023 at the High School with a breakfast and a program featuring K-12 student music performances and tributes, a guest speaker and a Highlands Staff Veterans recognition.

Members of the High School, Middle School & Elementary Superintendent’s Student Cabinet welcomed and served breakfast to Veterans, including representatives from the local VFW and American Legion, first responders and guests. The breakfast was planned and prepared by Food Service Director Stacey Waffensmith and the High School cafeteria staff. The tables were adorned with red, white and blue décor, souvenir ribbon pins and placemats made by Highlands Elementary third grade students.

Assistant Superintendent Dr. Cathleen Cubelic welcomed the guests of honor, school staff and students to the event’s program in the auditorium. The High School Honors Choir, under the direction of Mr. Michael Zeiler, sang a beautiful rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner. It was followed by Mrs. Michelle Pacek’s Kindergarten students, who led the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance and sang two patriotic songs. The Highlands Early Childhood Center Kindergarten classes also made a large flag with cutouts of their handprints and star decorations for the hallway.

Superintendent Dr. Monique Mawhinney expressed her gratitude and respect for Veterans in her opening remarks, and noted that this district-wide celebration will continue to grow and expand in the years to come. 

Student Cabinet members Jahla Simmons and Kaimya Calhoun introduced the honorary guest speaker, Mr. Tony Aubrey, who is an Air Force Combat Veteran and Co-Founder of Operation Vet Now, Inc. Mr. Aubrey shared the importance of working together as a team and what it means to be a Veteran. “Veterans are proud to have served their country, and many of us have put our lives on the line for each other and this country,” he said.

Four Highlands Staff Veterans were introduced by Highlands Elementary Associate Principal Ms. Sarah Kumar and Middle School Principal Ms. Becky Bragan. They were recognized and presented with a framed certificate by Dr. Mawhinney and School Board President Mrs. Bobbie Neese. These Highlands Honored Heroes are: High School Paraprofessional Mrs. Robin Davis (US Army & Reserve), Middle School Social Studies Teacher Mr. Mark Duncan (US Coast Guard), Middle School Band Director Mr. Lee Lynn (US Army & Reserve) and School Police Officer Tony Ricci (US Marines). 

View more info and photos in the Power Point presentation about Mr. Aubrey & our Staff Veterans here.

The celebration concluded with the powerful and proud “Armed Forces on Parade” by the Varsity Marching Band (including 8th grade members) directed Mr. Matthew Beresik and Mr. Lee Lynn, a medley of patriotic songs by the Highlands Elementary Fourth Grade Chorus directed by Ms. Mary-Parmer Keyser, and the inspirational “Amazing Grace” by the HHS Honors Choir and Mr. Zeiler.

Thank you to all of the Highlands Principals, Administrators, Teachers & Support Staff, Student Cabinets and performers who coordinated, planned and participated in this inaugural Veterans Day Celebration!