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Getting Involved

‘Heroes’ Honored at Stirring Canyons District Veterans Day Programs

Moments after Quail Hollow Elementary’s heartfelt and patriotic Veterans Day program, a touched Utah National Guardsman approached 96-year-old Navy Captain Albert L. Fisher, shook his weathered hand, and offered a well-deserved compliment: “You are a hero.”

Fisher happens to be one of the few remaining heroes to have served in the military during World War II. Another of those heroes, 98-year-old Staff Sgt. Leslie Whitton, was also a special guest along with numerous decorated veterans and current military personnel with relatives at the school.

This was no ordinary assembly. With the reverent and appreciative school children seated on the gymnasium floor with flags in hand, Quail Hollow’s incredible Veterans Day program warmed hearts, brought tears to eyes, promoted patriotism, and prompted feelings of gratitude.

Like other schools around Canyons District, Quail Hollow took time to honor veterans whose sacrifices and service have protected the country’s freedom, rights, and way of life. The red, white and blue-hued event included a red-carpet walk through a tunnel of flag-bearing students, patriotic music, national anthem and “Taps” performances by student soloists, a Pledge of Allegiance recital, a moment of silence, decorations, heartwarming slide shows, stirring speeches, handwritten notes, posters, and a gym full of Old Glory-waving children.

It was a tribute fitting for heroes, both alive and passed on.

Staff Sgt. Rosa Leonorrivas taught students that “Semper fidelis,” the United States Marine Corps motto means, “Always faithful,” and offered insights into the Marines’ values: Honor, courage and commitment.

Speaker Heidi Templeton shared fascinating tales from her late father, Per Haugen, who grew up in Norway during the Nazi German occupation. The young man, his brother and friends courageously helped sneak food to prisoners of war — detained in their school-turned-prison — and even tried to sabotage a machine-gun bunker.

Templeton said her father considered the U.S. to be “the land of heroes.” He immigrated to the States, which he considered “the land of heroes,” after WWII, served in the Korean War, became a citizen, and lived in America for 65-plus years.

“He believed in the spirit of America and the American dream,” Templeton said. “He believed anything was possible in this country with hard work, dedication and sacrifice.”

Students also soaked in brief messages shared by Fisher, who fought in the Battle of the Bulge with the Army and later served in Naval Intelligence for 32 years, and Whitton, who coordinated storage and repair of military vehicles, guns and ammo in Italy, France, and Germany.

“I’m so grateful to be an American,” said Whitton, the son of English immigrants. “Young people, just remember that you saw an old soldier from World War II, and he loved his country.”

Fisher urged students to make good choices.

“This is one way you can thank us for our service … be good students,” he said, standing in front of Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, and Space Force flags. “This is what saluting and honoring the flag is all about. You can be a great generation. It’s up to you to make it happen.”

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Lucie Chamberlain

Alta View Elementary

If a movie about super teachers were ever made, Lucie Chamberlain would be a prime candidate for a leading role. Fortunately for her kindergarten students at Alta View Elementary, she already thrives in a supporting role for them. Parents thank her for being a “super teacher.” She is also described as an “amazing colleague.” Whether students need help in the classroom or from home while sick, Lucie goes above and beyond to help them learn, overcome fears, and feel important and cared for. Lucie is the reason a number of kids went from hating school to loving it, according to parents. The way she exudes patience, sweetness, positive energy, and love for her students with special needs melts is appreciated and admired. One parent noted: “Both my kids wish she could be their teacher forever.” Another added:  “She treats every student like their learning and their feelings are her priority.” Super teacher, indeed!

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