Freedom Week returns to I.J. Holton

Published 11:16 am Friday, November 4, 2016

Michael Veldman

Grade 6 social studies teacher

On Monday, Nov. 7, through Friday, Nov. 11, fifth and sixth graders at I.J. Holton Intermediate School will participate in a week-long event entitled “Freedom Week.” This program celebrates its 15th year anniversary after being created shortly following the events of 9/11. This educational opportunity brings community leaders, guest speakers and military personnel into the building throughout the week. Students hear firsthand powerful messages centered on the freedoms, rights, and privileges afforded to every American. The summative outcome for this week is to have students understand their responsibility when it comes to these freedoms as they live and grow within their school, their community and their nation.

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The opening ceremony begins outside where over 800 students and staff members along with VFW Post 1216, American Legion Post 91 and DAV Chapter 27 assemble for the raising of the American flag. Girl and Boy Scout members will unfurl the flag as the military salute and civilians place their hands over their hearts. The sound of “Call to Colors” will be heard and shortly after a unison Pledge of Allegiance spoken by all in attendance.

Inside the gymnasium, Keynote Speaker Norm Hecimovich delivers a moving presentation on flag etiquette and addresses the topic of POW and MIAs. Musical selections from both choir and band students will round out the morning’s assembly. On Tuesday, Nov. 8, students will vote in a mock “electronic” election for President of the United States. Over the next couple of days various speakers from the Wounded Warriors Project, Sheriff Amazi and local retired military members will deliver powerful and personal presentations. Language Arts classes entered sixth graders in the annual VFW Patriot’s Pen Essay Contest and Social Studies classes will deliver in-depth studies of our nation’s freedoms.

The week will conclude with a Veteran’s Day Breakfast held at several schools throughout Austin. At IJ Holton, students will invite a Veteran to join them and then process to the auditorium to be introduced and be recognized for their service. Music provided by over 250 student musicians from singers to band members will perform patriotic selections as well. Lastly, Chris Geis representing Hormel Military Veteran Engagement Team (HMVET) will be on hand to announce his committee’s essay winners.

The week provides a wonderful opportunity for students, as well as staff, to refresh their dedication and commitment to being a citizen of this great nation we call the United States of America.