Surprise students thank veterans

DUSD hosts appreciation to celebrate those who served


The Dysart Unified School District held its first veterans appreciation kickoff celebration Nov. 4 at Kingswood Elementary School, 15150 W. Mondell Road, to honor those who served and are currently serving in the military.

Kingswood teacher MSgt. Trevor Sehr shared the history of veterans with those in attendance.

Kingswood Principal Jeremy St. Germain expressed appreciation the school shares for his service and commitment to the reserves and supporting every student.

“The idea for a day to honor veterans was as a result of the ending of the American Civil War in 1865,” Mr. St. Germain said. “It became a legal holiday in 1938, and in 1954 was renamed Veterans Day. 

Mr St. Germain noted the actual calendar date was set by the official ending of the fighting of the first World War “on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of the year.”

Luke Air Force Base Honor Guard presented the colors, alongside the Valley Vista High School band, which played the National Anthem. Kingswood student Mia Rodgers led the Pledge of Allegiance.

DUSD Superintendent Dr. Quinn Kellis gave special thanks to those who brought kids to the celebration.

“There’s really two things we are doing that are very important today,” Mr. Kellis said. “First, recognizing those who served our country to be able to have this type of gathering and go to school and learn and grow up in a land of peace. The other is turning the hearts of children to their father.

“What that means is the world wars happened a long time ago with others still fighting together to protect freedoms of many around the world and we honor them as well. But too often as generations arise memories get short. It’s so important that the individual men and women around the country who completed their assignments and still active are not forgotten”

Mr. Kellis went on to say there are heroes all around, and it’s important for children not to grow up in a new generation miss that direct connection. 

He added the young generation has to appreciate the gifts and blessings they enjoy due to the sacrifice for those who served and currently serving.

“On behalf of Dysart, I extend a thank you for all those serving. Thank you so very, very much,” he said.

Surprise Mayor Skip Hall praised the district for hosting an event where veterans could be celebrated. More than 10% of the Surprise community is made up of veterans.

“It’s important to recognize our military and show appreciation for keeping us free and safe and sometimes paying the ultimate sacrifice,” Mr. Hall said. “And that’s why it’s important to me and the rest of the Surprise council  to be a veteran-friendly community.”

Surprise currently has programs and initiatives in place to support veterans, including naming the Veterans Bridge, which is the Bell Road bridge extending over top of Grand Avenue.

Kingwood Teacher Boyd R. Bryant Sr., CMSgt. USAF (Ret.), recounted his 30 years in the military. 

There he amassed seven total degrees including two master’s.

He acknowledged the degrees don’t make him the smartest in the room, rather a persistent person.

“I want to impress upon young people there are alternate paths to getting your education, and the military is a great way to obtain the opportunity to go to school,” Mr. Bryant said.

Kingswood student Jorden Weiland read his essay submitted for the Patriot’s Pen Student Essay contest. He shared what he believes makes America great. Referencing inclusivity, patriotism and thankfulness.

“I am just glad I was able to perform my speech and that I was given the chance to do it,” he said. “Part of my speech came from having a lot of friends that don’t look like me, and I like representing them and letting people know I accept them.”

It’s a good lesson Mr. Weiland thinks everyone can benefit from and a great foundation as he moves forward in education and hopes to graduate someday from a university, too.

Editor’s Note: Jennifer Jimenez is a regular contributor to the Surprise Independent.