- About Us
NTMS honors veterans with Veterans Day speech contest
By Daniel Nash
Students honored veterans via word of mouth Nov. 11 when North Tapps Middle School hosted its annual Veterans Day speech contest. Attendees were treated to four patriotic songs performed by the North Tapps Concert Band and 13 speeches by returning and first-time speakers.
This year’s theme was “United We Stand.”
Eight speakers won gold, silver and bronze honors. Gold went to Maya Arigala and Madison Lancaster. Silver was tied in each division for Katie Lasko and Dax Tate, and Lizzy Rice-Reynolds and Rachel Tamm. Bronze went to Allison Hand and Rachel Hale.
Eighth grade U.S. history teacher Bob Rooney acted as master of ceremonies, introducing the band and the speakers to a packed auditorium. Band Director Del Winterfield led the music. Three local veterans of the Navy from the Vietnam War era acted as judges for the event. The judges were Petty Officer 2nd Class Dan Idso, Petty Officer 3rd Class Jim LaRosa and Petty Officer 2nd Class Terry Steiner.
The band opened with “The Star Spangled Banner.” Staff turned on the front auditorium lights in the middle of the performance and, though it was unintentional, the lights rose in unison with the music, coming to their brightest as the piece reached its crescendo.
The band subsequently played “Catalina March” and speeches began. Speeches were divided into two divisions, an “A” for first-time speakers and a “B” for returning speakers, with separate awards for each division.
Division A speakers were Arigala, T.J. Arline, Hand, Delaney Hannon, Lauren Kunz, Katie Lasko, Kayla Pellum, Chenoa Petraski and Tate. Division B speakers were Hale, Madison Lancaster, Rice-Reynolds and Tamm.
First-time speakers went first, followed by an intermission for “Stars and Stripes Forever” and the returning speakers.
Many of the speeches included common themes, such as the holiday’s origins as Armistice Day on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, when Allied and German forces signed the armistice ending World War I. Several of the students incorporated family members who had served in their speech.
Some of the students incorporated unique aspects to their narrative. Arigala drew upon Aesop’s Fables to support the “United We Stand” theme. She retold the fable of a dying man who asked his sons to try and break a bundle of sticks tethered together, and then separated. The sticks were unbreakable when united but easily snapped by themselves.
Hale emphasized the importance of media support for war veterans. Vietnam War veterans like her grandfather were not supported when they returned home from the controversial operation, she said.
“Imagine how hard it is fighting for your country when the people you fight for don’t care,” she said.
Awards were given and the band closed ceremonies with a medley of songs from each branch of the military, except the Coast Guard. Veterans of each branch were asked to stand during their song.
“Each participant did an excellent job in their presentations and the thought these students put into their speeches showed their heartfelt understanding of the meaning of Veterans Day,” LaRosa said.
Place-winning speakers will receive Bulldog points for participation and a mention in the school newsletter.