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By Ed Moreth 

Special meal for Plains veterans


November 14, 2019

Ed Moreth

SERVING THE SERVICEMEN – Plains High School senior Dakota Butcher serves coffee to Ed Farmer, a U.S. Air Force veteran at the Plains School Veterans Appreciation Luncheon. To the right is U.S. Marine Corps veteran Joel Thomas.

For the sixth consecutive year, Plains School students have honored community members with a special Veterans Appreciation Luncheon, held on Monday, Veterans Day.

Twenty-eight veterans attended the luncheon in the school's Family and Consumer Sciences classroom, where students of the Jobs For Montana Graduates (JMG) class served the guests chicken tetrazzini, penne with meatballs, three bean salad, Jell-O salad, relish tray and garlic bread, and for dessert brownies and apple crisp. Twenty-eight students from Nichole Cockrell's cooking class and 50 of George Sherwood's seventh-graders prepared the meal and set up the classroom, which was decorated with personalized patriotic artwork by students from kindergarten to eighth grade. It took students two hours to prepare the meal that morning, said Cockrell. The program was started by teachers Keith Baker and Linda Knight, who retired in 2017, and taken over by Cockrell and Sherwood last year. 

Seventeen-year-old Dakota Butcher, a senior, came up with the veteran luncheon idea as a seventh-grader six years ago in Baker's history class. "We wanted to do something for the local veterans and we though this would be nice to do for them," said Butcher, who as a JMG student helped with the luncheon this year. Jeremy Dakota, 17, was also one of the seventh grade students that started the luncheon and was on hand as a JMG student helping to serve on Monday. "We wanted to honor the veterans in our small town. I'm glad it's still going and hope it keeps going," said Dakota.

"It's bringing together the generations. We have this so we can have a communion or fellowship with the idea that the students can enjoy the same fellowship 50 years from now," said Plains School Superintendent Thom Chisholm, who welcomed the veterans and defined the event as a celebration to honor the vets. Two JMG students plan to join the military after an early graduation. Sixteen-year-old Gage Fuhrman will be going into the U.S. Army and Dorrey Heingartner, 17, will be enlisting in the U.S. Marine Corps.

"I think it's a great service to the community and it teaches the kids about the veterans and it's important that the vets know they're not forgotten," said Ron Kilbury, who served in the U.S. Navy and is now post commander of VFW Post 3596 in Plains. Attending the luncheon were veterans from World War II to the war in the Middle East and from all five services with the U.S. Navy leading the fleet with 10 veterans. The U.S Army was represented with eight vets, followed by the U.S Air Force with six, the U.S. Marine Corps with three, and the U.S. Coast Guard with one. Senior Master Sgt. Chris Nichols of the Air National Guard's 120th Security Forces Squadron in Great Falls donned his uniform for the event. 

Ed Moreth

CHOW TIME – U.S. Marine Corps veteran Jack "Doc" Lulack gets his plate filled at the Plains School Veterans Appreciation Luncheon. Lulack is followed by U.S. Army veterans Kirk Frye and Jonathan Zigler.

The vets ranged from 26-year-old Jonathan Zeigler, who served in the U.S. Army from 2010-2016, to 95-year-old Betty Meyers, who served in the U.S. Army for two years during World War II.

 The luncheon was followed by a special Veterans Day Assembly put on by music teacher Brittany Nichols and the middle school and high school bands and high school choir. The 40-minute assembly started with the "Star-Spangled Banner" performed by freshmen Izzy Crabb and Kaylie Peele. The students did several patriotic pieces, including all five service songs. Six seventh-graders - Darren Standeford, Erica  Foley, Teagan Saner, Zayden Allen, Teagan Thomas, and Mackenzie Tulloch - read their veteran thank you letters aloud. 

During the assembly, VFW Post 3596 honored Sherwood and Nichols with a National Citizenship Education Teacher Post Recognition Award for promoting citizenship in the classroom. In addition, student Emory A. Ercanbrack was presented a Youth Essay Certificate of Merit for her Patriot's Pen "What Makes America Great" essay contest entry.


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