Veterans at the HS

Lead Through Experience: Celebrating Veterans Day on Both Campuses

by Michelle Andrade
Veterans Day is celebrated on November 11 each year nationwide. The holiday observes the formal ending of WWI, which ended on the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918.
At Ensworth, it has been a commemorative event for many years. K–12 students have been invited to honorary Veterans Day assemblies and tributes, but in the last ten years, this holiday has become more of an access point to experiential learning.

Talented faculty orchestrate projects and initiatives as their passions drive the forward progression of the school’s Mission. Still, it is not as self-motivated as it may seem. The faculty and staff at Ensworth have a drive toward experiential learning with the hope that students will become life-long learners, historians, mathematicians, scientists, writers, dreamers, and doers. 
Students from both campuses have taken significant leadership roles in creating events to share with their peers and community. This year’s celebration at Red Gables consisted of research and performances by Grade 6 and Grade 8 students. Supported by Ruby Cortner, Tim Wallace, and Jenny Lenz, students conducted an informative panel discussing the history of Veterans Day and explained the different branches of the US Military. Their presentation concluded with a compelling enactment of America’s White Table by Margot Theis Raven. 
On the Frist Campus, the opportunity to work directly with veterans has led to a generation of students conducting more than just one event per year. Past students learned about veterans by visiting the National WWII Museum in New Orleans, writing to and talking with WWII vets, and visiting and interviewing veterans at local assisted living facilities. This year, the Veterans Day Service Club hosted a compelling Veterans Day Assembly, panel discussion, and lunch with beloved veterans from their community. With the support of David Chanaca, Tim Love, and the History Department, students compiled videos showcasing appreciation and stories from students, remembering times gone by with cherished veterans, and honoring the lives of those who serve this country.
Having close personal contact with these selfless men and women helps history come alive for many Ensworth students and has engaged a group of High School seniors to lead the charge for some new traditions. In planning this year’s Veterans Day Assembly, Nora Wheliss, Gracie Pulliam, Lara Rogers, Maddie Bradley, and Krsna Garr wanted to honor traditions at the school, introduce new practices, and inspire the student body. They invited the entire K–12 community to send in videos introducing veterans who mean the most to them. Just like students learn by doing research, interviews, and other activities, these upperclassmen are learning to lead through experience, and it has not ended with this year’s Veterans Day Assembly.  
In February, the Veterans Day Service Club plans to meet with a group of veterans that gather at the Brentwood Costco every Friday, but before they go, the seniors have another lesson to share. Prior to this excursion, they will teach freshmen, sophomore, and junior Veterans Day Service Club members how to interview. They will teach listening skills and review etiquette for dialogues such as these. These seniors are leading across grades and threads between divisions of the school, truly expanding our K–12 connection in the realm of experiential learning. As one teacher shares, “I became irrelevant.” Experience and passion lead students to find projects that they can initiate to expand their engagement and foster their own skills to be life-long learners. 

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