Emotions Spill Over in Quakertown’s Memorial Day Ceremonies
Quakertown’s Memorial Day service received a major jolt of passion, courtesy of the Quakertown Community School District — its students, teachers and administrators — who displayed a love and appreciation for America’s veterans who went to war to protect our freedoms and never returned home.
The prideful event at Memorial Park, following the majestic sounds and marching of the bands from the high school and Strayer Middle School, included an emotional keynote speech by Dr. Bill Harner, QCSD’s superintendent and a 20-year veteran of the U.S. Army.
Harner momentarily broke down when talking about Frank Parker, the high school band director whose father was killed in Vietnam.
“It was very difficult to get through that part of the speech,” Harner said. “I have a deep respect for Frank, his commitment to his students, our program, and his loyalty to the Quakertown Community.”
Harner’s emotion was not lost on Parker, who stood with his students not far from where the superintendent spoke. “It’s nice to know that he included a personal message to me,” Parker said. “It’s very nice for him to take that moment.”
Each year, Parker speaks with his students about the importance of Memorial Day. “It’s a connection my students will always have,” he said.
Coincidently, the theme of Harner’s speech, on Memorial Day’s 150th anniversary, was that very same historical perspective Parker provides to his students.
“Your attendance role models for younger generations this sacred tradition and creates habits for their behavior for years to come,” Harner said. “You reap what you sow!”
Harner, whose speech can be found on pages 2–3, told of his personal struggles following the events of 9/11. He spoke of the selfless nature of America’s heroes and their willingness to die to protect their families and our country.
“It was fantastic to have Dr. Harner here so that we have a representative from the school who has served our country,” said Dick Helm of Quakertown’s American Legion Post 212, who praised Harner’s “wonderful message.”
“He can speak to the future of our youth.”
Several students from the high school played a role in the ceremonies. Ana Handel read “Flanders Fields” and Adam Fischer read “The Gettysburg Address.”
Grace Wilson and Micah Kunkle were each awarded the American Legion’s Certificate of Distinguished Achievement.
The high school band played a salute to the armed forces, in which veterans stood when their service branch was called. And after the names of the local service members killed in battle were read, followed by a ringing bell, members of American Legion Post 242 and VFW Post 11322 who died in the last year were given a similar sign of respect.
The American Legion Honor Guard performed a rifle salute and high school band member Paul Hand then played Taps.
When the service concluded, several people in the crowd thanked Harner for his speech and his service.
“It was a very special day,” Harner said.
Harner, Local Officials, Inform Realtors of Area’s Real Estate Value
Superintendent Dr. Bill Harner and several municipal officials recently held a summit for about 50 Realtors, explaining the reasons their clients should be moving into homes and starting businesses in the towns contained within the Quakertown Community School District.
“We are very proud of what we are accomplishing here,” said Harner, who hosted the meeting at the high school. “We’ve had great support by the School Board and families in the community.”
The event was put together by Shelby Miller and Vickie Landis of Keller Williams Realty, which funded the high school’s new bowling teams.
“This was a great opportunity to get local Realtors in the area to learn all about the great things happening in Quakertown,” Miller said. “The support that the municipalities provide not only to the people in their communities but also with each other is unlike other areas. Dr. Harner does a fantastic job ensuring people are aware of all that is happening in our community and Realtors now know how to assist their clients in buying, selling and investing in homes in Quakertown.”
Besides Harner, speakers included Doug Wilhelm, Quakertown’s director of community development; Naomi Naylor, executive director and Main Street Manager for Quakertown Alive!; John Roth, Milford’s assistant manager; John Butler, chief operating officer of the Bucks County Water and Sewer Authority; and Paul Stepanoff, Richland’s manager and a former School Board member.
The common themes from speakers was the description of the area as “up and coming … safe” and “affordable” with lots of history, a great parks system, and “collaboration” between the communities and district.
Stepanoff, who praised Quakertown and Richland police for their accreditation and keeping the communities secure, also gave a shout out to district students.
“We have great kids,” he said. “If our kids travel anywhere, you speak to people in the hotels, you speak to bus drivers, the one common theme is they are the best behaved kids anyone outside of this area has ever seen.”
Harner, who later gave tours to Realtors who haven’t seen the newly renovated high school, highlighted district’s academic excellence attained through the hard work of students and teachers.
QCSD has 28 Advanced Placement courses, World Languages in grades 6 to 12, Spanish and coding in kindergarten to fifth grades, and outstanding STEM programs.
“It’s really cool and getting robust,” Harner said of the technological achievements. “We could only imagine that years ago, and our youngest students are doing it now.”
A year ago, Quakertown finished first in Bucks County and 12th in the state in the Pennsylvania School Performance Profile
With a 34 percent poverty index, Harner said “no one with anywhere near 34 percent outperforms us. The value of what we’re doing here is excellent.”