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Canyon Ridge School 10th Anniversary Veterans Program
The students at Canyon Ridge School presented their annual program to honor Veterans on November 8, 2019. This Veterans Commemoration featured patriotic songs, band performances, student presentations of original art work and cards of gratitude, and guest speakers from the community at large. 

Over 1,100 people were in attendance, including staff and student body. The outdoor assembly also featured comments from our keynote speaker Dennis Grau; former Commander of VFW Post 10695 in Sun City West and 2014 inductee to the Arizona Veterans Hall of Fame. “We live in a free country and enjoy your rights because of the service of the Veterans around you,” Grau mentioned as he motioned to the Veterans in the audience. “We are the home of the free because of the brave.”

Mr. Grau’s comments were echoed by Veteran Winnie Fritz; a U.S. Army combat nurse and winner of the Bronze Star for her service in Vietnam. “I am deeply moved to be here today and to experience this outpouring of love and respect for our Veterans. It is so important that a new generation understand the service of those who came before them.” Ms. Fritz was presented drawings and cards created by second and third grade learners. She will also be one of the Veterans that will be featured in writing by the Canyon Ridge chapter of the Veteran Heritage Project (VHP). 

The VHP builds bridges of understanding between students and Veterans by allowing those who served to tell their stories. Learners interview Veterans and create articles for publication in the acclaimed book, “Since You Asked.” Young authors will join their Veteran for a statewide book signing in April and a copy of the publication is displayed annually in the Library of Congress. The middle level learners of Canyon Ridge School are the only elementary grade representatives from the Northwest valley that will achieve publication in the volume. Their written works will highlight the accomplishments of Army Nurse Winnie Fritz, World War Two Army sniper, David Boyer and Navy Seabee Charles Hales. Mr. Hales is also a former president of the Saguaro Chapter of the Arizona SAR.

Among our honored guests were representatives from ten local patriotic community organizations. These groups all have long standing working relationships with Canyon Ridge School and included: Arizona Sons of the American Revolution, the Marine Corp League and the Arizona Daughters of the American Revolution. The Colors were presented and retrieved by the Arizona SAR Color Guard; under the command of Steve Monez. This organization has been instrumental to the success of multiple patriotic events on our campus; including United States Constitution and Patriot’s Day. Their contributions of time, resources and expertise continue to bring history alive for students.

The Veterans Commemoration assembly also featured a presentation of a $250 grant from the Veterans Commemorative Plaza Committee. Canyon Ridge was selected for this honor based on their two year partnership with the Cambridge program at Marley Park School, from 2013-2015. In that time both sites raised over $5,000 for the construction of the Surprise Veterans Commemorative Plaza. This monument honors all Veterans and contains brick pavers with the names and branch of service of hundreds of local Veterans.  Combined, our two Dysart schools remain the largest contributor to the memorial plaza. 

As a culmination to the Veterans Commemoration this year, VFW Post 10695 in Sun City West, performed a flag folding ceremony and presented this symbol to seventh grade Social Studies teacher Christopher Raso. He was cited for his many years of supporting Veterans and bringing patriotic learning opportunities the Canyon Ridge School. “I am deeply moved to receive our flag in this fashion,” Raso states. “The opportunity to bring real world experiences and expressions of patriotism to our students, have been the highlight of my career.”
Following the assembly guests were escorted through the Hall of Remembrance which consisted of over 120 photographs of Veterans from our community. Their years of service encompass all American conflicts from the First World War to the current War on Terror. All community guests and Veterans enjoyed a catered breakfast and had a chance to share their military experiences with each other at a reception sponsored by the Canyon Ridge Parent Teacher Association.

The 2019 Veterans Commemoration represents the tenth consecutive year that Canyon Ridge School has honored those who have served, or those currently in uniform. From it’s inception, the program has sought to educate learners regarding the importance of service and showing respect and appreciation for those who protect our freedom. The format of the assembly offered at Canyon Ridge has become the basis for assemblies that are now present at five schools in the Dysart Unified School District.
Posted : 11/19/2019 | Direct Link
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