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Wadena area veterans honored in annual school program

Sixth grader Jaxson Brown read his winning essay on "The Story of the Statue of Liberty." Brown was one of seven essay winners from the fifth and sixth grades. Seven other students were honored for their runner-up essays. Brian Hansel/Pioneer Journal1 / 6
A large crowd gathered in the gymnasium of the Wadena-Deer Creek Junior/Senior High School Monday morning for the annual Veterans Day Program. Brian Hansel/Pioneer Journal2 / 6
Arnold Hartjen of Wadena, a veteran of service in the United States Navy, smiled as he listened to K-12 vocal music students singing "Thank You, Soldiers." Brian Hansel/Pioneer Journal3 / 6
Sgt. First Class Matthew J. Carkhuff, a graduate of the WDC Class of 2002, was the Veterans Day Program's Keynote Speaker. Brian Hansel/Pioneer Journal4 / 6
Roger Bahls led the VFW Color Guard procession Monday morning kicking off the annual Veterans Day Program at the Wadena-Deer Creek Junior/Senior High. Brian Hansel/Pioneer Journal.5 / 6
Mary Ellenson directed K-4 students in singing "The Heart of America." Brian Hansel/Pioneer Journal6 / 6

Wadena-Deer Creek students in grades K-12 turned out Monday to pay tribute to servicemen and servicewomen in the annual Veterans Day Program.

Sergeant First Class Matthew J. Carkhuff delivered the Veterans Day Address. Carkhuff, a graduate of WDC's Class of 2002, joined the Army National Guard in 2003 and served in Iraq in 2005. He entered the Active Guard Reserve Program in 2008.

A large crowd filled the Wadena-Deer Creek Junior/Senior High gymnasium for music, essays, poetry and singing.

The Color Guard of VFW Post 3922 presented the colors after which Mike Ortmann directed the WDC Concert Choir in the National Anthem and Senior Class Officer Raine Curtis led the Pledge of Allegiance.

Following a welcome from Activities Director Norm Gallant, K-4 students sang "The Heart of America" under the direction of Mary Ellenson.

Seven winning essays from the fifth and sixth-grade classes were delivered by Amaya Walker, Jordin Van Ourkerk, Jennifer Varela, Amber Collins, Jaxson Brown, Macey Goeden and Anna Guo. Credited for their runner-up essays were Emma Schmitz, Katelyn South, Devan Wiederich, Megan Hamelau, Madyx Shreves, Kelanie Oldakowski and Brianna Yglesias.

SPED Teacher Marc Reynolds was honored as the VFW Post 3922 Teacher of the Year for the 6-8 grade level.

Senior Lucas Doyle, the Legion State Representative read the First World War poem "In Flanders Field" by John McCrae and the WDC Concert Choice sang "In Flanders Field."

The poetry-reading and son were followed by a PowerPoint of "Our Heroes" featuring local veterans and the veterans of WDC families.

Students in K-12 sang organization songs for the different branches of the armed forces while veterans in the audience stood.

Doyle closed the program with "Taps."

Fourth graders receiving first place awards for their essays on "The Story of the Statue of Liberty" were Joanna Aho, Ashley Pavek and Isabelle Lehmkuhl. Runner-up honors went to Charli Snyder, Kennedy Ness and Jack Van Bruggen.

Third graders who received first place recognition for coloring pictures of Betsy Ross were Addison Fink, McKenna Brauch, Ben Kreklau and Naveya McManigle. Taking second place honors were Brielle Kern, Brooklyn Jesuit, Aubrey Walz and Kaia Roemmich.

Recognition was also given to the top three finishers in the Patriot's Pen Essay Contest - eighth-grader Grace Gallant, seventh-grader Ella Stroeing and third-grader Lauryn Gravelle.