In continuing a fairly new tradition, over 30 Brentwood High School students from STUCO and Diversity Club brightened Valentine’s Day for many veterans at the Jefferson Barracks Veterans Center on Feb. 14. This was the second year in a row for the visit and it would appear that a strong bond and future working relationship between the high school and the Veterans center is now established.
“I used to bring 8th graders here on Valentine’s Day when I taught in Clayton and it was always such a moving experience,” said Diversity Club sponsor, Ed Wright. “It’s become even more powerful with high school students here in Brentwood.”
STUCO sponsor, Kelly Javier, agreed. “Watching our kids interact and jump right in to help these veterans today kept me smiling the whole time.”
See a more photos taken by Ed Wright at the Maplewood-Brentwood Patch Facebook page.
Students arrived around 10 a.m. and were immediately assigned tasks by the energetic volunteers coordinator, “Rocky” Buchanan.
It was a “National Salute to Veterans” celebration and there was plenty to do—distribute valentines, pass out souvenir hats and beads, serve meals and drinks, guide the veterans to their tables, and just sit and talk with them. Many of the students went to the hospital wards and escorted the veterans to the celebration. This exposed the students to a variety of challenging physical and emotional conditions and had a deep impact.
STUCO president, Sean Koster, was especially active and involved with some of the vets. “It was amazing to talk with them and to know that we were adding some joy to their day. I think we all felt good about it.”
Other students were able to get some of the vets up dancing. Mariah Logan was the ringleader. “The music was good and you could see some of them already moving a little in their seats. It just came naturally to ask them out on the floor,” she said.
State qualifying wrestlers, Tyler Jones and David Rivera, led the audience in the pledge of allegiance. “I was a bit nervous at first," Tyler admitted, “but then the emotion of the moment kind of took over.”
The adults and students committed to finding more ways to unite the school and the veterans. There was talk of volunteering at other parties and maybe even having the school basketball teams put on an exhibition for the vets. “Of course, we could take them down,” Rocky commented.
At the end of the day, everyone felt good about what they had been able to do while appreciating the sacrifice and dedication of the men and women veterans they met. “You young people have brought hope to these veterans today. Don’t forget them.”Rocky concluded. It’s apparent that none of the students will forget.