School celebrates 20 years of honoring veterans

Shortly after the ter­ror­ist attacks on September 11, 2001, a group of teach­ers at Maple Point Middle School in the Neshaminy School District got togeth­er to dis­cuss an idea. With Veterans Day approach­ing, they thought that hold­ing a cer­e­mo­ny to hon­or America’s mil­i­tary would be a good way to teach their stu­dents about the vital role of the men and women who chose, and con­tin­ue to choose to serve their coun­try in the armed forces.

Every year since, the 8th grade at Maple Point par­tic­i­pat­ed in a cer­e­mo­ny that has become a school and com­mu­ni­ty tra­di­tion. Over 100 vet­er­ans and active mil­i­tary typ­i­cal­ly attend the cer­e­mo­ny, held just before Veterans Day (which is a school hol­i­day). There, they hear speech­es by stu­dents, teach­ers, com­mu­ni­ty lead­ers and spe­cial guests. A roll call of attend­ing vet­er­ans is read, and stu­dents sing and per­form patri­ot­ic songs. A large American flag is paint­ed on a slop­ing field next to the school, and a por­trait pho­to of the stu­dents and vet­er­ans is the finale to the ceremony.

In 2020, of course, this tra­di­tion had to change. 8th grade social stud­ies teacher Anne Schmidt, one of the orig­i­nal orga­niz­ers of the event, brain­stormed with her col­leagues on how to con­tin­ue the cer­e­mo­ny while pro­tect­ing stu­dents and vet­er­ans from the Covid-19 virus. 

What they did was to turn the event inside-out, lit­er­al­ly. On Monday, November, 10, vet­er­ans and their guests were invit­ed to dri­ve through  the park­ing lot of the school, through a path lined by  stu­dents and staff hold­ing hand-made signs of appre­ci­a­tion and flags. The Langhorne-Middletown Fire Company sent a tow­er truck which held a large American flag. Each vet­er­an was greet­ed and giv­en a gift bag. Several tele­vi­sion sta­tions cov­ered the parade and shared it on the evening news.

Students posed with the paint­ed flag over two days, since only half of the stu­dents attend class­es each day in the cur­rent hybrid learn­ing schedule.

A vir­tu­al video cer­e­mo­ny (view­er below) was pro­duced and shared with the com­mu­ni­ty on the 11th hour of Veterans Day, Tuesday, November 11. The video includ­ed all the speech­es (taped dur­ing the pre­vi­ous week), trib­utes, musi­cal per­for­mances, the roll call, and footage of the parade from the pre­vi­ous day. Community speak­ers includ­ed U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, PA Rep. Frank Farry, for­mer U.S. Under Secretary of the Army Patrick J. Murphy. The finale of the video includ­ed a trib­ute to Ms. Schmidt for her hard work orga­niz­ing this amaz­ing event for 20 years.

Fireman salutes veterans

Student holds a sign that says "Thank You Veterans"

Anne Schmidt on a fire truck with firefighters Anne Schmidt (cen­ter) with fire­fight­ers on a truck they brought to the parade on November 10.

8th grade students by the American flag outside the school