Ernest Ward brings World War II to life

Published 12:02 am Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Through a collaborative effort at Ernest Ward Middle School, the Iwo Jima monument came alive during the Florida school’s 25th annual Veterans Day program.

The Veterans Day program is held each year to express a personal touch from the school to the area veterans, Sixth Grade Language Arts Teacher Katie Roley said.

“Many of the veterans who come to our program are people we have gotten to know through the years,” Roley said. “These are real people with real stories, and Ernest Ward tries its best to bring to light that personal touch to as many Veterans as we can.”

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Roley said the theme of this year’s skit was based on the famous monument from World War II.

“One reason we focused on this portion of history is because we are losing so many Veterans of World War 11 each year,” she said. “There are not many left anymore. It is important to remember to recognize those we still have among us while we can. The second theme or emphasis for this skit was to show students that many of our veterans were young — teenagers even — when they first joined the military or even saw active duty.

“Our veterans were young, ordinary people, who decided to step up and serve our country,” she said. “They faced real fears and real feelings when they went to war. “

Roley said several participated in the program this year, including Northview’s Color Guard, the Ernest Ward Chorus, Drama Class, SGA and FFA.

Roley said the program also featured a singing of “God Bless The USA” by the assistant prinicipal, a guest speaker who talked about life aboard a Navy ship and others.

Roley said many hours were put into the set design and production aspect of the program.

“So many little details have to be in place for the program,” she said. “From having students hand-write invitations to the veterans, mailing and posting over 200 invitations, to rehearsing a 15-minute skit and setting up the backdrop. Truly, our Veterans Day program is a labor of love.”

Roley said the six actors wore uniforms painted gold and had their bodies also painted in gold to represent the monument itself.

“One by one, each actor came to life to share the actual story of the men in the infamous Iwo Jima flag raising picture,” she said. “Each actor did a one-minute monologue talking as if they were that man. The information for this skit came from a book called “Flags of Our Fathers,” where the lives of each of the men were talked about in detail.”

Roley said the students have gotten a lot of good feedback from their peers and Veterans, alike.

Roley said it’s important to hold programs like these because the students learn so much from them.

“We are all so blessed to live in the United States, especially when there are still many countries who do not truly experience the freedoms we have,” she said. “We want to remind our students that the freedoms we have are not free, they do come at a price. It is because we have a military that would protect us at any cost that we can enjoy the style of living our country has. Our school never wants to take it for granted, and we want to instill that into our students as well.”

Roley said she’s already making plans for next year’s program, and is thinking of ways to make it better.