Eagle River High shows its gratitude

Annual Veterans Day lunch continues to grow


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Staff Sgt. Jordan Hayes, left, and Staff Sgt. Maria Rutland of the JBER Honor Guard unfurl the American flag during a luncheon honoring veterans on Nov. 9 at Eagle River High.

Mike Nesper

Thank you.

It’s a simple message, but an important one to relay to our country’s service members — especially for Eagle River High.

With nearly half its students from military families, the school held its annual Veterans Day luncheon Friday, Nov. 9.

Speaking to a large crowd in the gym, principal Marty Lang thanked the service members and their families for the sacrifices they make.

“The job you do inspires us to do our job better,” he said.

Four years ago, the luncheon began in Jeff Parker’s classroom, Lang said, and the event continues to grow.

“This is an incredible turnout,” he said. “Next year, we’re already planning on more seats.”

Students in the Student 2 Student program — which helps new arrivals transition to life at ERHS — put on the luncheon.

The great attendance made the two months of planning well worth it, said Cody Newman.

“It feels really good after putting in so much work,” he said.

About 45 percent of students at ERHS come from military families, Lang said.

That’s why Student 2 Student is so crucial, said program member Chloe Lindsey.

“It’s amazing how many people that are related to the military go to our school,” she said.

The program’s main function is to provide new students with support, Lindsey said.

“We care. We support them,” she said. “That’s what Student 2 Student is about.”

The program also helps students deal with deployment. About one in eight ERHS students will have a parent deployed overseas throughout the year, Lang said.

“When their parents get deployed, it affects everything,” said Student 2 Student member Dylan Pruner.

Though she has no ties to the military, Pruner said helping her fellow Wolves deal with deployment is one reason she joined the program.

“I know that those people need support,” she said. “When their parents are gone, they need to still feel like they’re still at home.”

In addition to speeches by Student 2 Student members, the school’s choir and band performed, and AFJROTC members presented the colors and performed a flag folding ceremony.

The luncheon wouldn’t be possible without the students, said Parker, the Student 2 Student advisor.

“All the credit goes to the kids,” he said.

Parker, who served 23 years in the Air Force, said the luncheon is a way to connect the community to the military.

It also shows that support for service members extends far beyond Eagle River, Pruner said.

“They’ve got the backing of millions of people,” she said. “This is just a small portion of it.”

 

Contact Mike Nesper at 694-2727 or mike.nesper@alaskastar.com

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