Serving those who served.

November 11, 2021

Third and fourth grade teacher and Vietnam veteran David Van Horn wore his Army uniform to school and marched his students into the cafeteria. The mini troop obediently obeyed his commands of  “attention,” “forward march,” “at ease,” etc.

Serving those who served.

Walkerville hosts Veterans Day brunch in newly-renovated cafeteria.

By Allison Scarbrough, Editor.

WALKERVILLE — Walkerville Public Schools served brunch to local veterans on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, in the district’s newly renovated cafeteria.

Due to COVID precautions, the K-12 school offered a scaled-back version of its salute to veterans this year. Veterans who were not able to attend the delicious brunch received their meals via home delivery by Walkerville High School student council members.

“We’re definitely trying to make sure that we’re recognizing the people who need to be recognized in a way that will be a positive memory and show the kids especially what the importance of the day is and at the same time trying to be as safe as possible,” said Principal Joe Conkle, who is a US Army veteran.

“I did nine years in the Army — three active and six in the National Guard.” He was deployed to Iraq in 2008. 

Students brought handmade cards for the veterans, thanking them for their military service. Each booth was decorated with a patriotic US flag centerpiece.

In addition to honoring the vets, the program was an opportunity to showcase the school’s newly-renovated cafeteria, which opened just 10 days prior. 

Federal funds financed the $200,000 renovation project. “We’re serving around 800 families (via curbside pickup), and we get federally reimbursed for each family that comes through,” explained Conkle. “All that money goes into a hot lunch fund that can be used for general fund things.”

The new cafeteria offers a modern atmosphere with large flat screen TVs, new lighting, booth seating and new flooring. The drop ceiling was removed, creating an open, industrial look. Many local contractors worked on the project, said Conkle.

Vietnam vet Ed Sironen, at left, and Walkerville Principal Joe Conkle, who is a military veteran that served in Iraq.

“We’re trying to make this a learning lab opportunity. The smart TVs can sync to computers, and teachers can come in and use it as a classroom.”

Food Service Director Sheri Boes and her staff served up a tantalizing breakfast including pancakes, scrambled eggs with ham, sausage, toast, fried potatoes, biscuits and sausage gravy, breakfast muffins, croissants, coffee, milk and juice. 

“I’ve been at Walkerville since 1993, and this is the most amazing and beautiful cafeteria we’re ever had,” said Boes. Not having to move and assemble the heavy tables anymore is a welcome change. 

“Our whole team worked very hard for the new cafeteria,” she said. “I’m really excited about it. The kids love it.”

US Army vet Ed Sironen of Hesperia, who served during the Vietnam War, attended the program. “It’s special to me because of the guys that didn’t make it. One in 10 didn’t make it and three in 10 were wounded.”

Sironen said that although he wasn’t physically injured in the war, he carries deep emotional wounds, particularly post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

“I think it’s great,” he said about the school saluting the veterans. “And the breakfast was great.”

Third and fourth grade teacher and Vietnam veteran David Van Horn wore his Army uniform to school and marched his students into the cafeteria. The mini troop obediently obeyed his commands of  “attention,” “forward march,” “at ease,” etc.

It was discovered that Van Horn served in the same infantry division as Sironen. 

“It’s a very small world and a very tight brotherhood,” said Conkle.

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