May 2023 - Carolyn Sharette, Executive Director
NOTE: This article was also sent to all families by Mrs. Sharette May 28, 2023
We have just concluded an amazing week where our students prepared for Memorial Day by participating in a commemoration at school. Our Memorial Day commemorations are assemblies for students, staff and a Gold Star family. A Gold Star family has lost a loved one while serving our country in the military and each year we invite one for speak at each campus to tell their story of loss. Because this can be a tender time for many students, and is a meaningful experience for all students, we invite you to ask your student about the commemoration they participated in, about what they saw, and thought, and felt. We feel it is important that parents are in the loop for all the meaningful experiences in their childrens’ lives. We have included the link to the recordings of the commemorations at the bottom of this email and we encourage you to watch it (or parts of it) with your student and ask them about their thoughts and feelings.
By way of background - the commemoration lasts about an hour and fifteen minutes. It begins with a slideshow of fallen soldiers who APA has honored over past years, while our band plays Hymn to the Fallen. We then say the pledge and sing two verses of the national anthem. We spend about 50-55 minutes learning about the origin of Memorial Day (Civil War era), we review the Gettysburg address and have an artful depiction of that speech by our theater students, we reflect on WWI and the symbol of the poppy to represent fallen soldiers as we hear the poem In Flanders Fields and America’s Response (our 6th and 2nd grade students), and we review the national war memorials and Tomb of the Unknown Soldier with a slideshow, famous quotes and creative depiction from our theater students. We learn about Arlington National Cemetery and hear a song by about it sung by our choir. We review the challenge given by President Clinton in 2000 asking all Americans to remember that Memorial Day is set aside to remember those who have given the ultimate sacrifice that we may be free, and his invitation to all Americans to participate in a national Moment of Remembrance at 3 p.m. on each Memorial Day. We then practice a minute of silence as we reflect upon our gratitude for sacrifices made for our liberty.
At the end of these presentations, we listen to the Gold Star family member who speaks for 5-10 minutes about their loved one who died in service and the impact of that loss on their family. They send us pictures that we display during their remarks, and we get to know a little about their soldier, and their life and their service. We sing Thank You Soldiers, expressing our deep gratitude to all who have given this sacrifice and to all their families.
We then have a flag folding and presentation ceremony, and conduct a silent dismissal where students are given the opportunity to pay respects to those who have given their lives for their freedom by exiting the gym in silence.
This is a remarkable event and I need every parent to know that your student is truly exemplary in the way they conducted themselves at the commemorations this week. Each year I am so very impressed by the comportment of our students and I felt compelled this year to make sure that you know just how remarkable your children are. From ages 5-18, they all participated with appropriate dedication, emotion, respect, and honor. Our minute of silence was incredibly powerful and truly, completely SILENT as hundreds of students respectfully thought about the sacrifices made for their freedoms. Songs were sung with devotion. Poetry was recited with passion. I so wish every parent could feel the feelings we felt this week in our commemorations and could have seen your exemplary students. Watching 600-1200 students (depending upon the campus size) exit the gym in silence is something you probably cannot imagine without seeing it. We are so grateful to our wonderful students for the gift they gave our Gold Star families this week.
As mentioned above, I have included each campus’ link to your recording below and invite you to watch it with your student and have them tell you about it, about what they learned, and about what they felt.
On a related topic, it occurred to me at the conclusion of one of our commemorations that, as a community, we all shared in the pain and sorrow of a new friend (our Gold Star family member). Some of us cried as they told their stories. Some of us cried from the moment the Hymn to the Fallen began and we saw the pictures of soldiers we had honored in year’s past. Your students saw their teachers - male and female - express emotion publicly. Some students as well were visibly moved by the music, or other parts of the commemoration. We felt deep emotions of compassion and gratitude and expressed them in different ways. Some of us had expanded experiences feeling greater gratitude for America and for our freedoms. All these emotions were honest responses to real life - the sorrow, the gratitude and even the joy for our freedoms - all shared together in our school community.
As my mind reflected on the amazing things we were experiencing together, I was reminded that several parents and others in the community have reached out to me over the past months and asked “how does APA teach social-emotional learning?” or “What curriculum is APA buying for SEL”? My answer has always been that we don’t buy a special curriculum. That we integrate feeling and expression of feelings into everything we do at APA. Yesterday it occurred to me that this commemoration is a wonderful example of how APA approached “social-emotional” learning for students and for all of us.
So, if anyone questions you regarding how APA teaches "social-emotional learning” you can let them know that we don’t purchase a curriculum that tells students how to feel, asks them how they feel, or recommends what they should do about those feelings. We provide meaningful real-life experiences that honestly address life with all its challenges, sorrows, victories and blessings. We listen to each other’s stories, and to the important stories of history that have shaped and molded our lives. We learn to have compassion for each other, and also for those we learn about in our studies who have suffered, struggled, overcome, or died for their convictions. We learn to express that compassion and our gratitude in words, and we also provide service opportunities for students to express gratitude in deed. This is APA’s “SEL program”.
With regard to Memorial Day on Monday, May 29th, we invited our APA community to observe the national Moment of Remembrance 3 p.m. by holding a minute of silence with their family and friends. We encouraged you to teach others about the meaning of Memorial Day, and to fly your flag at half mast until noon, which is the proper flag etiquette on Memorial Day. Many families visited memorial cemeteries for soldiers and placed flowers on graves. I personally feel it is important to resist the popular notion that Memorial Day is a day to remember anyone in our family who has died. I do this by visiting our family graves on Saturday or Sunday and reserving Monday as a day of remembrance for those who have given the ultimate sacrifice - their lives - that we may enjoy liberty.
Thank you so much for all you do to make APA such a wonderful place to learn and grow. Your children are truly remarkable and we love their good hearts, which were on full display this month at our campuses.
Click below to view our livestream recordings and photos from our Memorial Day Commemorations.
Each year, American Prep holds a commemoration assembly near Memorial Day to help us turn our thoughts and hearts to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to secure our freedoms. To observe this important day, our students and staff honored those who died and those who lost family members in service through song, speech, and other performances at each campus.
American Prep was founded on the belief that America’s schools bear the responsibility to teach our children about the liberties they enjoy and the sacrifices made to ensure those liberties. We know that our freedom is not free but has been earned by the men and women who have served our country and committed their lives to preserve our freedom.
American Prep held six Memorial Day Commemorations between May 22nd and May 26th. We were honored to have a Gold Star family member in attendance at each assembly. This has been a remarkable Memorial Day week and we thank all of our Gold Star families for joining us and sharing their stories with our students.
We encourage you to rewatch our commemorations and share these links with loved ones, friends, and anyone in your community who would like to honor our fallen heroes.
Please click the links below to watch any of our commemoration assemblies.
Learn more about how American Prep supports military families and veterans.
American Preparatory Academy holds our military families in high esteem. We understand the challenges our active duty military families and students experience which is one of the reasons we strive to make transitions as smooth as possible.
At APA, we offer resources and support for military families through each of our campus administrators, counselors, and student ambassadors. If you are an active-duty military family in need of support as you transition your students to American Prep, we encourage you to connect with us.
Please click the APA Military Family Resources button to learn more.
Learn more about Memorial Day
Gold Star Families
You may have seen a gold star on a license plate or a flag. You may have even seen someone wearing a gold star pendant. The "Gold Star" is a powerful symbol of sacrifice representing a family member whose loved one was killed or died while in military service. At American Prep, we teach our students what it means to be a Gold Star Family member and the incredible sacrifice each family has made.
As we teach our students about Memorial Day and direct their awareness to the significance of this holiday, we think it's important to educate our students about how they can address a Gold Star Family member and offer encouragement and thanks.
Each year, we are honored to have Gold Star Family members as guests at our commemorations. Our Gold Star Family members will often speak and share their experience of losing their loved ones. They also share how grateful they are that our students will remember them. We encourage our students and our APA community to thank our Gold Star Families and to let them know that we will not forget their loved one's sacrifice and that we are truly grateful.
Thank you to our Gold Star Family members, John Thibeault and Shar Elmer, for joining us this week and speaking to our students.
In Flanders Fields
The purpose of our Memorial Day events is to honor those that have fallen but it is also to educate and inspire our youth to understand our history and the value of our freedom. In our commemoration event, students learn many things including history and symbol of the poppy flower. It stems from a beautiful poem, In Flanders Fields, by World War I Colonel John McCrae, a surgeon with Canada's First Brigade Artillery.
Many hands and great efforts have made the poppy a symbol of remembrance of the war. Today, the creation and sale of poppies has helped veterans, widows, widowers, and orphaned children around the world.
To learn more about the the poppy and its meaning during Memorial Day, please watch the replay of our live streams or visit https://www.va.gov/opa/publications/celebrate/flower.pdf for more information.
Flying the flag at half-staff
As a community, we honor our fallen heroes in many ways on Memorial Day. One of these ways involves particular regard for our flag.
On Memorial Day, our flag should be flown at half-staff from sunrise until noon only, then raised briskly to the top of the staff until sunset, in honor of the nation's heroes.
In the early days of our country, no regulations existed for flying the flag at half-staff, and, as a result, there were many conflicting policies. But on March 1, 1954, President Dwight Eisenhower issued a proclamation on the proper times and procedures.
We are honored to teach our history at American Prep. We are confident that learning about our past will inspire our students' future.
To learn more about Memorial Day and flying the flag at half-staff, please visit, https://www.va.gov/opa/publications/celebrate/halfstaff.pdf
Arlington National Cemetery & Blades of Grass and Pure White Stones
During our Memorial Day Commemoration, our students learn about the many memorials established to honor our fallen heroes. One of these memorials is Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia. The importance of this cemetery is deeply rooted in our history. Originally established to honor our first President, George Washington, Arlington National Cemetery now serves as the resting place for over 400,000 soldiers and their qualified dependents. There are soldiers buried in Arlington from every war our country has ever engaged in, from the Revolutionary War to the present day.
Many of our students have seen images of Arlington National Cemetery. What is most notable is the row upon rows of white tombstones marking the graves of thousands of soldiers. This imagery inspired the writing of a beautiful song in tribute to those buried at Arlington. The song is called Blades of Grass and Pure White Stones, written by Senator Orrin Hatch, Lowell Alexander and Phil Naish.
Click here to see American Prep's rendition of Blades of Grass and Pure White Stones.
Each year American Prep holds a commemoration assembly before Memorial Day to help us turn our thoughts and hearts to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice while defending our nation.
Our students and staff honor those who served through song, speech, and other performances at each campus.
This has been a remarkable Memorial Day week and we thank all of our Gold Star families for joining us and sharing their stories with our students. We encourage you to rewatch our commemorations and share these links with a loved ones, friends, and anyone in your community who would like to share in honoring our fallen heroes.
May 24th - 9 am - West Valley 1 - Grades K-6th
May 24th - 1 pm - West Valley 2 - Grades K-12
May 25th - 1 pm - Salem - Grades K-9th
May 26th - 10 am - Draper 1 - Grades K-6th
May 27th - 9 am - Draper 2/3 - Grades K-12
May 27th - 11:30 am - Draper 2/3 - Grades K-12
Thank you for helping us honor those who died while serving our nation and protecting our freedom.
Each of our events has been live-streamed and the recordings are now available to re-watch at any time. We encourage you to share these links with a loved one, friends, and anyone in your community who would like to share in honoring our fallen heroes.
Please click any of the images below to view our Memorial Day Commemorations.