FINDLAY - A state law enacted a year ago requires public schools to observe Veterans Day by teaching students about the holiday's origins and meaning.
At Wilson Vance Elementary School in Findlay, they've been doing that for 11 years with an assembly to honor pupils' relatives who were in the armed forces.
During Friday's program, the former service members will be introduced by their young relatives, who will tell the assembly about the veterans' experiences in uniform, including combat, said Barb Lindeman, a thirrd-grade teacher who coordinates the event.
“I started this 11 years ago because, as a teacher, and being the daughter of a World War II veteran and sister of a career Air Force person, I saw among the kids a real need to understand the background of the veterans and the things these people sacrificed for all of us,” Ms. Lindeman said.
Veterans Day, which is celebrated Nov. 11, marks the day the armistice was signed that ended World War I in 1918. Because the holiday falls on a Saturday this year, most districts are marking the occasion a day early.
Findlay Superintendent Bob Lotz, who will be among the guests at the Wilson Vance program, said the district didn't need a law to convince it of the importance of honoring former servicemen and women. “It's not an inconvenience or one of those `have-to' things,” he said.
At school districts across the region, the reaction is the same: This is one state mandate educators don't mind.
“As an educator, everything is laid in our lap and put on our platter,” said Doug Arnold, superintendent of the Rossford schools. “As a citizen, certainly I think I'm as patriotic as anyone, and I think an observance of Veterans Day has been good for our students.”
The law requires schools to offer an hour of instruction time devoted to the holiday, or one class period if their classes run less than an hour.
“They're not specifying what you do, it's just that there's an observance,” Mr. Arnold said.
Each of the district's buildings conducts a program honoring veterans. At Eagle Point Elementary School, four former servicemen from Rossford VFW Post 6409 attended a program last Friday that focused on the Korean War.
The students recited the Pledge of Allegiance, sang patriotic songs, and heard a short history of the war from a military veteran who served in South Korea in the early 1980s, said Deb Serdar, principal of the school.
The program ended with music teacher Brian Burnett, who organized the event, playing “Taps'' on a bugle to honor fallen veterans.
The program helped bring long-ago conflicts to life for students, Ms. Serdar said.
“There are mandates that come from the state that aren't funded that are very costly to the schools, but this program didn't cost us anything to put on,” she said.
Jane Bruss, a spokeswoman for Toledo Public Schools, said the district adjusted its curriculum last year to allow for the hour of Veterans Day instruction called for by the state. “In all the classes, at least that amount, and in some cases much more time, is devoted to the importance and significance of Veterans' Day,” she said.
In Washington Local schools, veterans have been invited to speak Friday at buildings throughout the district, said Jacquie Shank, assistant superintendent. At Whitmer High, a group from the Conn-Weissenberger American Legion Post will present U.S. flags to the school at an assembly at 1 p.m.