Public schools in Williamson County will be open Monday, Veterans Day, but most will be honoring those who have served in the military through breakfast invitations, special programs and, perhaps most notably, participation in the Franklin Veterans Day Parade.
Schools from Williamson County Schools and Franklin Special School District will have students marching in Monday’s parade that begins at Five Points in downtown Franklin and ends at Bicentennial Park. Whether they’re in marching bands, the JROTC or ambassadors from the Be Nice program, scores of students will be part of the parade co-hosted by the city of Franklin and WAKM-AM radio.
“Patriotism is a big part of our school district, and it’s important we’re teaching kids about patriotism and about serving others,” FSSD Director of Schools David Snowden said. “Our veterans serve our country, and many of them gave the ultimate sacrifice, so we think it’s an important part of educating the whole child. This is another piece of it — being patriotic and showing your patriotism. Our parents love that we participate, and they love seeing their children marching.”
The Poplar Grove and Freedom Middle School bands will be marching in the parade, representing the FSSD, and fourth grade classes from all five of the district’s elementary schools will be as well. School ambassadors from the Be Nice program from pre-K through eighth grade will march as a group with the youngest ambassadors riding with chaperones on a trailer.
In addition, the FSSD Storybus will be in the parade with Board of Education members and Snowden walking alongside or riding and giving out miniature flags.
From WCS, here is a list of schools participating in Monday’s parade:
- Franklin High School Marching Band
- Franklin High School JROTC
- Centennial High Marching Band
- Centennial High JROTC
- Ravenwood High School JROTC
- Independence High School Marching Band
- Independence High School JROTC
- Page High School Marching Band
- Page High School JROTC
- Summit High School Marching Band
Veterans Day activities are happening at some of the schools as well. Freedom Intermediate School, for instance, is hosting a breakfast Monday at 8 a.m. for veterans who are friends of family members of students.
Liberty Elementary has created a veterans wall of fame, and the PE teachers there have been teaching about each branch of the military this week. Students have also completed a “boot camp” obstacle course. There will be a Veterans Day assembly Monday morning, and Monday is also red, white and blue day.
At Johnson Elementary, the Tiger Troubadour choir is performing its first annual concert on Veterans Day at 2 p.m. The choir is made up of second, third and fourth graders that come twice a week before school to rehearse. The program will be honoring service members past and present.
The musical selections include classics such as the “Star Spangled Banner” and “America the Beautiful” as well as songs that will tug at heartstrings such as “American Tears,” “Taps” and “Battle Hymn of Gettysburg”.
This choir is a joint venture with Johnson Elementary and Gentry’s Educational Foundation.
Students in K-4 grades at Poplar Grove Elementary are writing letters to veterans that the fourth graders will pass out along the parade route. Fourth graders are learning patriotic songs to sing as they march in the parade in music class, and morning announcements on Veterans Day will highlight the school's custodian, Mark Robertson, as he is a veteran.
In the WCS district, many schools will be having activities celebrating Veterans Day, and a few have hosted earlier events.
At least four schools in the district have Veterans Day programs that are now considered traditions — Grassland Elementary, Hillsboro School, Kenrose Elementary and Woodland Middle.
As for the parade itself, it will begin at 11 a.m. following a veterans brunch and program at the Williamson County Archives building. This year’s grand marshals are:
- Mr. Robert Schmidt, Franklin, WWII, U.S. Navy
- Mr. Ollie Burns, Franklin, WWII, U.S. Army
- Mr. Ed Smith, Brentwood, WWII U.S. Navy/U.S. Air Force
- Ms. Geraldine Amos, Franklin, Vietnam, U.S. Marine Corps
- Mr. Steve Lee, Franklin, Vietnam, U.S. Army
- Ms. Jennifer Pontow, College Grove, Afghanistan/Active Duty
“We’ll have two females, which makes me happy as a female veteran,” said Jeannine Hinkle, director of Williamson County Veterans Affairs. “Little girls at the parade can see that females are part of the military and they can grow up to be one if they like.”
The weather forecast for Monday shows a 40% chance of rain with temperatures in the low- to mid-50s.