"Veterans Day Means Thank You:" Orange Hunt Elementary Events Highlight All That Goes Into Military Service

By Office of Communication and Community Relations
November 11, 2022

Physical Fitness. Sacrifice. Teamwork. Medals of Honor. Orange Hunt Elementary School in Springfield, Va., uses Veterans Day to ensure students are aware of all that goes into military service.

The school, where one-third of students come from families with a parent who is active-duty in the military, organizes “celebration stations” to honor the spirit of military service from many different perspectives: Students gathered in one space outside the school listen to service members and veterans talk about their life experiences. They learn that military service goes beyond the battlefield, with some parents working in the military as lawyers, medical professionals or even trumpet players.

 

An Orange Hunt Elementary School parent and active duty military member reads to students.
An Orange Hunt Elementary School parent and service member reads to students as part of Veterans Day celebrations at the school.

Around the corner, the school’s band and chorus are performing the Star Spangled Banner and other patriotic tunes for the community.

 

Orange Hunt Elementary band director Eileen Fraedrich leads students in performing a variety of patriotic songs.
Orange Hunt Elementary band director Eileen Fraedrich leads students in performing a variety of patriotic songs.



 

An Orange Hunt Elementary student participates in the Veterans Day band performance.
An Orange Hunt Elementary student plays the tuba in the Veterans Day band performance.



On a field behind the school, an elaborate obstacle course has been set up with students cheering for each other as they walk across a moving plank, crawl under hurdles, and bob and weave in steps through hula hoops on the ground in a mock basic training set-up that reminds them that the military values physical fitness and teamwork.

 

Students tackle a mock boot camp that aims to highlight the importance of physical fitness in the military at Orange Hunt Elementary School's Veterans Day celebration.
Students tackle a mock boot camp that aims to highlight the importance of physical fitness in the military at Orange Hunt Elementary School's Veterans Day celebration.


 

An Orange Hunt Elementary student participates in the Veterans Day band performance.
An Orange Hunt Elementary student weaves through cones during a mock boot camp session at the school's Veterans Day celebration.



At the final station, students are engaged in making their own medals of honor using construction paper and yarn.

 

A student creates a medal of honor out of construction paper and yarn at Orange Hunt Elementary Veterans Day celebration.
An Orange Hunt Elementary student makes a medal of honor out of construction paper and yarn during the school's Veterans Day celebrations.

“This is a time-honored tradition here at Orange Hunt, we have parents and students involved in every part of it,” Principal Karen Tuttle says. “It means a lot to the families to have this every year, even those who’ve graduated from our school, sometimes come back to participate in the celebration”.

U.S. Army Captain Chad Boone, whose family moved to Northern Virginia in April from Germany, says he volunteered to assist in the event because he wanted to talk to students about how different military careers can look.

“I think it’s important for kids to know the military is not just marching and taking orders,” Boone said. “As a community, this event highlights how many service members we have in this area, the sacrifices they make and it also reinforces for kids with parents who serve that there is a sort of cohesiveness, they are not alone, there are other students just like me who adapt to making new friends, and changing schools.”

Eight-year-old Nathanial Ojo, a second-grader, says on Veterans Day he thinks of his uncle in the Navy and his great-grandfather who served in the Army during World War II.

“Veterans Day means thank you to people who protected us and honored us so our country can have peace,” Ojo said.  The Orange Hunt Elementary celebration is important, he says, “so all our classmates, even those without family members who are veterans, can think about what it means to have other people sacrifice so we call can have peace.”

His classmate Connor Mock, also 8, agrees.

“My dad worked in the Air Force,” Mock said.  “He works to create things that can help us safe. I really love my Dad, and I like people to thank him and other veterans.”

Watch WJLA/ABC 7’s coverage of Orange Hunt’s Veterans Day activities

Learn more about FCPS resources for military families