Annual Veterans Day Observance Returns to LFHS

Casey Murray, Editor

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Lake Forest High School has traditionally played an integral role in the Lake Bluff-Lake Forest community. This year LFHS students made themselves even more vital as they took responsibility for organizing the annual Lake Bluff Observance that earned profuse praise from veterans, villagers, and Principal Chala Holland.

The school’s commitment to civic engagement is not only felt in the outside world; it has played host to food drives, blood drives, and voter registration sessions within its walls. On Veterans Day, it celebrated the holiday in a continuation of a longtime LFHS tradition.

The first Armistice Day was observed on Nov. 11, 1919, a year after the armistice ending the First World War came into effect. The war was the first truly global conflict and saw millions fight and die in an ominous foreshadowing of the conflict to follow.

In 1954, Congress passed a law renaming Armistice Day to Veterans Day and establishing its focus as the remembrance of all veterans, not just the dead of World War One. In the intervening 65 years, the holiday has become a fixture of the American autumnal experience.

The Lake Forest High School-hosted event, however, is a more recent development, according to Administrative Assistant Cindy Rogna, who aside from serving as a principal advisor of the Student Council worked with Special Education teacher Cindy Dell in directing the LFHS end of the accompanying art competition.

“The American Legion and Lake Forest High School have been doing [a Veterans Day Observance] for a long time,” she said. “[Principal] Dr Holland moved it to a different level.”

The most recent iteration of the annual observance took place during sixth period on Veterans Day. The ceremony featured a slideshow of pictures of veterans related to current students and staff, Army Lieutenant Colonel Vickie Argueta spoke about her experiences, veteran and current School Board member Ted Moorman was honored for his service, and the LFHS Band played patriotic pieces including the national anthem and “America the Beautiful” in concert with eight students from the Choir, including senior soloist Mahila Yousuf.

Director of Bands Janene Kessler said that the Band played at similar events for many years. Only recently, however, did the observance come to the Raymond Moore Auditorium and see significant attendance by students, developments Mrs Kessler credited to Dr. Holland’s efforts.

“It’s been a much stronger and better-attended event since Dr Holland became involved,” she said, agreeing with Mrs. Rogna.

Dr. Holland herself stressed that the observance was an important way of “honoring all Veterans who have and continue to serve and make sacrifices to preserve our freedoms and liberties.”

(One objective is) to educate our students on the meaning of sacrifice and service towards a cause greater than oneself.”

— Dr. Holland

Another objective, she added, is “to educate our students on the meaning of sacrifice and service towards a cause greater than oneself.”

She only took full responsibility for the ceremony after two years of “learning more about the school community, the program, and the values of the community,” she said. When she eventually did take over at the advice of Lake Bluff Village President Kathleen O’Hara, her first step was forming a committee that includes representatives of all parts of the community. To date the committee has met with success.

“I think this year’s program was meaningful. I’m less concerned about it being better or worse [than previous ceremonies],” she said. “I’m more interested in knowing that all of the Veterans in the audience or watching the live stream know that we truly appreciate them.”

Mrs. Kessler put it more directly. “It bothers me that this is just a day to have sales,” she said.

Student Body President Sarah Bires and Spirit Committee Chair Lexie Conley emceed the observance. Senior Evan Jasica, junior Lauren Fabbri, and junior Grace Blendonohy were awarded third, second, and first place respectively for their entries into the Veterans Day Art Competition.

The competition, now in its fifth year, is judged by Lake Forest American Legion Post 264. Winning entries receive $1000, $750, and $500 respectively, divided between the submitting student and the club of their choice.

But the legion is “not looking for gratitude,” Mrs. Rogna said. “They just want to make sure kids are educated about [the sacrifices veterans have made].”

To that end, the entire event is viewable online courtesy of LFHS EdTech.