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Francis Scott Key High School’s ninth “Veterans Day Celebration” came a few days ahead of the actual holiday, but produced its largest turnout.

Social studies teacher Ryan Kimble, who heads up a committee of about 15 who put together the annual event, said the only issue with the 125 or so veterans and family members in attendance Thursday morning was having enough coffee.

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“It was great,” Kimble said. “Our kids’ ability to interact with the veterans, that’s what makes the day so special.”

Indeed, Kimble described the highlight as the parade of 75 or so veterans through the school’s hallways, led by the FSK marching band. Every student in the school took time to produce a handwritten letter, allowing each veteran to take home a number of thank-you notes.

Kimble said that, over the years, veterans — particular Vietnam War-era veterans — have come up to him and told him that being thanked by the students was the first time they had ever been thanked for their service.

“The kids have the utmost respect for them,” Kimble said. “We are so honored to have them in our building. They’re the ones willing to lay down their lives for us.”

After coffee and doughnuts, the national anthem and Pledge of Allegiance, the school’s chamber choir performed military songs and drama students read the poem “In Flanders Fields.” The veterans and their families then enjoyed a breakfast prepared by the school’s FFA members, who arrived at 6 a.m. to cook. Principal Shannon Mobley spoke, “Taps” was played and then the parade through the hallways commenced.

About half the veterans who attended Thursday’s event were Francis Scott Key graduates, Kimble said. He called the veterans celebration “very FSK.”

“The FSK community is just different,” he said. "We’re out here in the sticks a little bit. All around the county we’re known as the rural area. But this community is close-knit. And our veterans are the foundation of our community.”

Numerous Carroll County Public Schools commemorate Veterans Day. According to a CCPS news release, 27 schools are doing so, beginning with a Jeans for Troops fundraiser at Winfield Elementary on Wednesday. On Thursday, in addition to FSK’s event, Century High and Freedom Elementary saluted veterans. On Friday, West Middle is holding a veterans breakfast and Ebb Valley Elementary is having an assembly. On Saturday Manchester Valley High has scheduled a Veterans Day dinner and show.

Monday, on Veterans Day, Carrolltowne Elementary, Mount Airy Elementary, Mount Airy Middle, North Carroll Middle, Northwest Middle, Oklahoma Middle, Piney Ridge Elementary, Runnymede Elementary, Shiloh Middle, South Carroll High, Spring Garden Elementary, Sykesville Middle, Taneytown Elementary, William Winchester Elementary and Winters Mill High are all holding events to pay tribute, according to CCPS. Additionally, Hampstead Elementary, Sandymount Elementary, Westminster Elementary and Westminster High are celebrating in various ways and, on Nov. 15, Robert Moton is holding a Veterans Day assembly.

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