600Lower School students and families honored the service of our country's men and women in uniform at the annual Veterans Day program, held in the Lower School gym on Friday, Nov. 8.
Assistant Head of Lower School Bernardo Guzmán warmly greeted all of the Lower School Ravens and their guests. As has long been the tradition, family members and friends who are current or former members of the military were asked to stand and be recognized by students, faculty and staff, and parents in attendance.
The program began with the presentation of colors by fifth-graders Cole Venters and Tanner Bradford, led by Sgt.Derrik Downs, a retired Marine who served in Afghanistan.
The Lower School orchestra, under the direction of Tasi Matthews, led attendees in singing the "Star-Spangled Banner," and then fifth-grader Karolyna Huntanar and her father, Maj. Mark Huntanar, led the Pledge of Allegiance. Another special musical selection, "Give Me America," was performed by the Raving Ravens, directed by Katie O'Neill and Mary Royall Hight.
The program's featured speaker, Maj. Huntanar, spent 20 years in the U.S. Army, served all over the world and earned many honors, including the Bronze Star, the Distinguished Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Army Commendation Medal and the Expert Infantryman Badge. He completed several rigorous leadership training programs, including Airborne School and Ranger School.
In introducing Huntanar, Guzmán connected his strong record of service to his country to Ravenscroft's own citizen leadership framework, Lead From Here.
Huntanar talked about his experiences in the service and how important trust and community became to him and his fellow soldiers. From "CQ Duty," in which soldiers stayed awake during the night to assure their company stayed safe, to inspecting one another's parachutes before jumping out of a plane, knowing they could count on one another was essential.
"It was ... our professional responsibility to take care of and protect one another," he said.
He added that this shared sense of responsibility made a big impact on him during his training in the elite Ranger School when, after weeks of grueling training, he sustained an eye injury that required him to have both eyes covered with patches. He was facing the prospect of having to drop out, but his fellow Ranger trainees didn't let him down. "'We'll carry you through the swamp if that's what it takes,'" he recalled his teammates saying to him. "'We're all going to finish this course together.'
"This reminded me again of the team that I had formed," he concluded.
After Huntanar's inspirational words, students sang "Ravenscroft Song" and the school's anthem before heading back to class.
Thank you to all the parents, grandparents and other family and friends who attended the program.
Above: at left, fifth-graders Cole Venters and Tanner Bradford join Sgt. Derrik Downs in the presentation of colors; at right, Maj. Mark Huntanar gives remarks about shared responsibility. Below, clockwise from top: the Raving Ravens perform patriotic songs; Huntanar with Assistant Head of Lower School Bernardo Guzmán, daughter Karolyna and her teacher, Michelle Schulze; Lower School music and drama teacher Mary Royall Hight and Downs, who is her brother-in-law.