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The Forest Scout

The Student News Site of Lake Forest High School

The Forest Scout

The Student News Site of Lake Forest High School

The Forest Scout

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LFHS Veterans Day Assembly Pays Tribute to US Service Members

On+Friday%2C+Nov.+10%2C+students%2C+staff%2C+community+members%2C+and+veterans+gathered+in+the+Raymond+Moore+Auditorium+to+watch+a+program+honoring+US+service+members.
Taylor Ross
On Friday, Nov. 10, students, staff, community members, and veterans gathered in the Raymond Moore Auditorium to watch a program honoring US service members.

On Veterans Day, Lake Forest High School partnered with the Lake Forest American Legion Post 264 to host an assembly honoring veterans in the Raymond Moore Auditorium. The ceremony – complete with performances from the choir and band, speeches, and tributes to veterans – allowed both families of veterans and students to recognize and gain a deeper appreciation for service members’ contributions to the United States. The program was led by emcees LFHS Student Body President Fritz Bielski and LFHS Senior Class President Kelsey Bumbaco.

The ceremony opened with the posting of the colors, where the audience stood as the flags were held by members of Legion Post 264. Immediately following, the “Foresters” – a choir group – sang the Star Spangled Banner.

This was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance and the LFHS band playing songs that represented each branch of the military. As each song was played, those who served under that branch of the military and their families were invited to stand and receive recognition for their service.

In addition to musical tributes, there were speeches honoring US servicemen and women. Mr. Jim Holmes – Commander of the American Legion who served in the National Guard from 1987 to 1995 – spoke of the sacrifices service members and their families make on behalf of their country.

Each year, the Lake Forest American Legion sponsors a contest that allows LFHS students a chance to demonstrate their gratitude for veterans by creating a tribute through a medium of their choosing. Members of the Legion Post 264 then review each entry and select the top three candidates, who receive a monetary prize and a donation to an LFHS organization on their behalf.

The top three winners are awarded their prizes at the assembly. 

This year the third-place winner was freshman Luke Regner, who created a poster detailing his family’s history of military service in the Marines and Air Force.

Following Regner, second-place winner sophomore Gabrielle Burke was awarded for her painting of a scene portraying a fire, that symbolizes the eternal flame that veterans keep ignited through their service.

In Burke’s description of the painting she said, “Veterans Day celebrates the men and women that let the light burn bright. This light gives all of us a flame. Alone, we shine gently against the opacity of adversity. But then again, if we join together, that flame grows bigger, and the light glows brighter. Thank you, Veterans, for lighting the way for greatness and for America.”

The winning piece was a video created by senior Sydney Kirages expressing her sincere gratitude for all that veterans have done, not only for our country but for her as an individual.

Taylor Ross

Kirages has been involved with the Legion since her freshman year when she entered the “What Veterans Day Means to Me” contest for the very first time. Realizing she did not know much about Veterans Day – rather than a possible day off of school – she decided to reach out to the Legion to ask questions about their role in the community. This, Kirages said, “quite literally changed my life.”

Wanting to get involved with the Legion as a high school student, Kirages spent the next three years with the organization placing flags on the graves of deceased veterans each Memorial Day. She also raises flags throughout the town with the Legion on Flag Day, 4th of July, Lake Forest Day, Labor Day, Veterans Day, and Memorial Day each year. 

“Joining with a bunch of Legionnaires, Rotarians, and other volunteers, I felt alive and a sense of pride in our country and our forefathers,” said Kirages. 

Volunteering with the Legion has introduced her to more opportunities, including an invitation to the Mayor’s lunch and an opportunity to be in the judging booth at the Lake Forest Day parade. Most importantly, working alongside the Legion all these years, Kirages has been told the stories of service these Legionnaires experienced.

“Working with the Legion, and getting to know the Legionnaires has been one of the most incredible things I have ever done. The Legionnaires are my biggest cheerleaders. They are kind and supportive and happy to have people help them make our town a community,” said Kirages. “In my video, I wanted them to know that I appreciate everything that they have done for me. The Legion is a family, and they look at the community as an extension of that family. I feel grateful to be included in their family.”

Kirages plans to donate the money she received to a club she recently started called “Interact” – which is the Rotary club at the high school level. She hopes the monetary donation will allow the club to participate in more service opportunities. 

Following the presentation of Kirages’ award, one of the veterans in attendance received a significant honor. Mr. Tom Marks, former American Legion Commander, was named the 2024 Veteran of the Year. Marks served in the Navy during the Vietnam War and has since raised a family and built a career here in Lake Forest. Marks received this award due to his community contributions following his return from Vietnam.

Mr. Tom Marks is a Navy veteran and this year’s Veteran of the Year. (Taylor Ross)

Following the accolades, Dr. Erin Lenart – LFHS principal and a military spouse herself – shared a touching speech expressing her gratitude to veterans, while weaving in her personal experiences of having a husband who served in the military for 21 years.

“The life of a military family is marked by brief video calls during long deployments and the constant presence of absence. The constant presence of absence. But, it is the life we choose because we choose to love a soldier,” said Lenart in her speech.

Lenart expressed her appreciation for Lake Forest’s commitment to recognizing veterans’ service and treating them with respect and dignity.

“As a resident still fairly new in her time in Lake Forest, it’s inspiring to be a part of a community that actively honors the service of its members. This tradition is one I am proud to support and anticipate will continue to flourish at Lake Forest Community High School,” said Lenart.

“Taps” is played to signal lights out at the end of a military day and is played during military memorial services to honor those who have lost their lives in service. (Taylor Ross)

The ceremony closed with a somber and heartfelt performance from Timotei Dan of “Taps” on the trombone – a song honoring all fallen servicemen and women.

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About the Contributors
Emma Stadolnik
Emma Stadolnik, Editor-in-Chief
Emma Stadolnik is a senior and is so excited to be returning to The Forest Scout, this time as an Editor-in-Chief! Around LFHS, you can find her on the volleyball court as captain of the varsity team, or at GIVE club! She enjoys singing to country music, spending time outside, and listening to good podcasts. Edit
Caroline Gerber
Caroline Gerber, Editor-in-Chief
Caroline is very excited to start her second year contributing to The Forest Scout, now as Editor-in-chief! A senior at LFHS, Caroline runs for the girl's track team and is an officer on the debate team. Outside of school, when she’s not with friends and family, Caroline enjoys watching action shows, playing guitar, listening to music, and walking her dog, Jasper.
Taylor Ross
Taylor Ross, Visual Editor
Taylor Ross is a senior and is so excited to edit for The Forest Scout this year! Outside of school, she enjoys theater and photography. Some fun facts about her is that she has two dogs, and her greatest enemy is Mr. Leyden.
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