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7 Special Ideas to Celebrate Veterans Day at your School

Show School Pride and Gratitude to Veterans in Your Community

When is Veterans Day and why do we celebrate it?

Every November 11th, Americans observe Veterans Day. Some schools are in session on this day; others are not. Veterans Day is a US federal holiday.

Regardless of whether your school is in session on this day, many schools aspire to celebrate Veterans Day in a special way. Some school choose to celebrate it the day prior or after Veterans Day, if their school is closed. Above all, they wish to honor the brave men and women who have served in the United States' armed forces.

Veterans Day is held on the 11th day of the 11th month in honor of the 11th hour on this day when World War I ended in 1918 - signaling Armistice Day.

On this day, many schools recognize their staff and the families of students who served in the US armed forces.

7 Special Ways to Celebrate Veterans Day at your School

Note: Each of these ideas require planning and preparation. It's important to identify a few great teammates to help make these events meaningful and smooth. Consider parent/family volunteers, school leaders, or educators who wish to help make this special day a resounding success! *Bonus* The media LOVES Veterans Day events at schools ~ don't forget to invite them!

Idea #1: Host a Veterans Day Assembly

The school where I first served as VP always held an annual Veterans Day Assembly. As a comprehensive high school with nearly 900 students, we had all the bells and whistles for this proud day.

Guests would gather for light refreshments before the event. The assembly would last approximately 45 minutes and included readings, special guests like celebrity veterans or the mayor, and of course, amazing music.

We invited veterans from our entire community to attend. They were invited through our staff, our students, and by the school personally reaching out to friends at the VFW and the American Legion. We posted and promoted the event on our social media pages.

At the assembly, our veteran guests sat in chairs in the center of the gym facing our stage, while the students (dressed in their best attire that day) sat in the bleachers all around our guests.

Our choir performed the national anthem to kick off the assembly. Guest speakers read powerful messages or students read essays on a Veterans Day theme. Occasionally a history teacher would give a brief history of one of America's many wars.

One year, we even honored a local Congressional Medal of Honor recipient - in his 98th year of life.

The band performed all five songs for the five (at the time) branches of the military. As the theme song played for each branch, our veterans would stand and be recognized and someone would announce the branch by name. There was not a dry eye in the place; our proud veterans would often weep at the sound of their beloved theme song being played by America's young people.

The end of the assembly was always beyond powerful. One talented high school trumpet player played "Taps." The echoing melody moved everyone beyond words.

The sky is truly the limit for planning and implementing a meaningful Veterans Day Assembly.

Please post other ideas in the comments below, if your school holds an annual assembly!

Idea #2: Produce a "Thank you Veterans Video" featuring students

Timeless and precious - a "thank you" video for veterans is a great idea, especially because you can share it on your school's social media pages.

WeVideo has absolutely changed the way I do business at school! I used to wonder how all those principals would find the time to make cute videos of students and the great things happening on campus.

Now I know - WeVideo! Check it out here - it's FREE:

Here are a few video ideas to get your started:

- A video collection of staff students saying "thank you, veterans!"

- Students answer a prompt like, "The best thing about America is..." or "What freedom means to me..."

- Have students tell a story about a veteran they know and love

Idea #3: Hold a Veterans Day Parade in your school

It's always amazing to see and learn how many of our students are connected to veterans. Aunts, uncles, dads, moms, siblings, and more - it seems as though most students know someone who is or was a veteran.

Idea #3 is to invite these folks into school for a walking parade in your halls!

Simply set a staging time and location in your school where all veterans are welcome to gather. If you like, extend an invitation to your local veterans groups like American Legion or VFW.

While they gather and enjoy light refreshments, your students can line the halls to cheer on your school community's veterans. When the parade begins, your school veterans walk the halls to the cheers and claps of your students.

Even more fun - have the guest veterans hand an American flag to their student as they walk past them! It's sweet and very sentimental.

Music is a bonus ~ consider having someone carry a portable speaker or play music over the loud speaker.

Idea #4: Create Cards for Veterans in your Community

Near our school we have several great drop-off locations for veterans. This includes the VFW, American Legion, and the city's senior center. We also have a veteran's outreach organization in our community.

Have your students all design and create thank you cards for your community's veterans. Depending on their age, they may need a little more support or some pre-written prompts.

Decide on where you plan to deliver them and make a special delivery during Veterans Day week.

Idea #5: Host a Veterans Day Speaker Panel

In my community our VFW and American Legion groups are active and strong. We love to partner with them for all sorts of events.

One idea is to invite a small group of veterans to speak to students at your school. Perhaps they visit a few classrooms; perhaps they speak to the whole school. There is nothing more powerful than hearing the tales of those who served our country.

A few considerations:

- Are any of your students' parents or family members veterans?

- Watch the time. My experience with some veterans is that they have many amazing hours of experience to share. Be clear on how much time everyone gets in order to be equitable to all guests.

- Have gifts ready for your guest speakers. Perhaps some school gear or a thank you card ~ they will appreciate the generosity and become ambassadors for your school!

- Decorate that space! See Idea #6 below, or start shopping here.

Idea #6: Decorate your Campus for Veterans Day

Our school's secretaries LOVE to decorate the Main Office to celebrate for the current holiday. Red, white, and blue is festive and easy to design - with the right supplies!

Decorating your school with red, white, and blue can be so fun! With limited school budgets, this theme of decor is great - reuse the decorations on Patriot's Day (9/11) and for Memorial Day (last Monday of May).

Banners and Pennants

Here are some favorites:


Indoor Decorations

Other ideas:

- Use plastic table clothes of red, white, and blue to tie ribbons around your school's trees

- Add a Thank You Veterans message to your reader board

- Have students write "thank you" messages in chalk on your school sidewalk

Idea #7: Make a Photo Montage of Students

Photo montages are so easy to make and are one of the best ways to celebrate any holiday or special event!

Consider having students hold up whiteboards with words that exemplify veterans (ex. brave, strong, courage, freedom, etc.). Or have them write "thank you" on white cardstock and hold it up for the camera.

Photo montages are very easy to make, so long as you have the right tools! (Psst, they're free!) Check out my step-by-step instructions here.

You can also see my how-to video below. Be sure to click this link to get Canva Pro FREE for 30 days! It's the easiest tool for making montages and it's a risk-free trial.

Thank you, Veterans!

To all the brave men and women who have served the United States in our military. Thank you! I hope other principals are inspired to celebrate you on their campuses this year.

Principals ~ please share your other ideas for Veterans Day in the comments below.

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