The Damascus School Veterans Day Assembly was held on Wednesday, November 8, 2017.

Damascus School presents an assembly during the afternoon for the student body, and another one in the evening for the local community.

This was the ninth year that this student run assembly has honored local veterans.

The standing room only crowd was called to attention by the Master of Ceremonies, eighth grader Harrison Balthaser.

Robert Hansen led Boy Scout Troop #122, Cub Scout Pack #110 of Damascus Township in the Posting of Colors, and well as the Pledge of Allegiance.

Students in Fourth grade sang The Star Spangled Banner. Later in the program they also performed other patriotic songs including This Is My Country, This Is A Great Country, and This Land Is Your Land.

Abby Price gave a presentation titled “Veterans Day”, that explained the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

Kayla Kuta and Emily Ruggles introduced patriotic musical videos, Where The Stars and Stripes and Eagle Fly, and Ragged Old Flag.

The keynote speaker was Sgt. Mike Evans. Sgt. Evans served in the United States Army and currently serves in the Pennsylvania National Guard.

He was presented with a plaque by Student Council President Bennett Fritz and building assistant principal Mr. Anthony Donnini.

Harrison Balthaser explained the Island of Thanks Project. Over 400 American flags were planted in the grassy island in front of Damascus School.

These flags were purchased in memory/honor of living or deceased veterans. Proceeds in the amount of $300 from this project were donated to St. Francis Commons in Scranton, PA. St. Francis Commons is a thirty bed transitional housing program for homeless and disabled veterans.

Another highlight of this year’s event was the honoring of one local veteran. This year Damascus School honored Mr. Bernard E. Belknap. Mr. Belknap enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1943, and went on to serve in the Pacific theatre.

Mrs. Rebecca Senft, niece, shared highlights of Mr. Belknap’s military and civilian career.

After Mr. Belknap was discharged from the military, he went on to become the first operator of the Honesdale Sewage plant.

Mr. Dave Jagger, building principal and Student Council President Bennett Fritz presented Mr. Belknap with a plaque. Representative Mike Peifer and Representative Jonathan Fritz, also presented a citation to Mr. Belknap.

The third grade class also sang a number of patriotic songs including Battle Cry of Freedom, Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor, and America The Beautiful.

Mr. Chris Gallo, music teacher, directed all musical presentations during the assembly.

The assembly concluded with a student presentation by Jocelyn Barnes titled, “The Story of Taps.”

This piece explained the historical significance of Taps and how it became prominent in the military. Immediately after, “Taps” was played as the colors were retired.

The Damascus Student Council and Friends of Rachel Club hosted light refreshments in the cafeteria immediately after the program. Mrs. Traci Gelatt and Mrs. Amy Gries were in charge of coordinating this part of the program.

Local veterans were served sandwiches, chips, cookies, coffee, and juice by middle school students. Damascus School would like to thank the many local veterans who attended the program this year!