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Heroes commemorate with Junior Class in honor of Veterans Day


Huntley held its annual Veterans Day presentation in the Performing Arts Center on Tuesday, Nov. 8.

“It was a way for us to honor those people who have served our country,” said Social Studies teacher Jay Teagle.  “We wanted to make sure they were appreciated and remembered.”

Teagle, who began preparations as early as mid-October, took over and organized the ceremony for the first time this year.

The ceremonies began with an introduction from Teagle and then an entrance from the HHS color guard.  Dressed in red polo shirts and khaki pants, the color guard presented the flags in an aura of silence.  The high school’s Master’s Singers class then sang the National Anthem, which was followed from the pledge of allegiance, led by Teagle himself.

The first of two guest speakers was Petty Officer Mary Paz, the mother of sophomore Michael Corona.  She discussed how she has served for 13 years in three branches: the Air Force (1994), Navy (2002), and Marine Corps (2006).

Paz reflected on the bonds she had made with her fellow Marines.

“The people I have met [due to my son] have become my family,” said Paz during her speech.

After Paz’s presentation, Joel Popenfoose, a pastor and an assistant coach to the sophomore football team, took stage.  Popefoose, whose 26-year-old son Adam is in the US Marine Corps, shared a father’s perspective of having a child in the service.

In his speech, Popenfoose talked about how lucky his son was to still be alive, and how brave he was to join the service.  He discussed the different types of things his son had to go through, such as door-to-door searches in western Iraq.

Popenfoose also discussed how he had to deal with the fear of losing his son overseas.

“Whenever a door slams in the driveway, the thought comes to my mind, ‘are those two people in uniform about to tell me that my son has been killed?’” said Popenfoose.

However, Popenfoose makes sure to keep his fears to himself, and he advises that other parents who have children serving do the same.

“Whatever branch, it is key to be positive and supportive,” said Popenfoose after the presentation.  “Don’t share your fears and concerns because they have their own fears to deal with.  It shows that you support them.”

He also touched on the heroics of Adam and how his selfless son would pray, “If someone’s going to die today on my team, let it be me.”

Popenfoose concluded his speech with the words, “I’m proud to be a father of a United States Marine.”

After a supportive round of applause, Teagle took the podium and discussed his personal connection to serving in the United States.  Teagle has a brother who was in the Marine Corps for seven years, an uncle who was in the Army, and a cousin who served in the Navy and Air Force.

During his main speech, Teagle had veterans stand for applause.  Four men served in the Air Force, five in the Navy, 13 in the Army, and 12 in the Marine Corps.  Teagle then discussed how nearly 100 Huntley alumni have served, all of whom were listed on the back of the program for the presentation.

After Teagle thanked all of the veterans for their service, junior Alex Morton stood and recited the poem, “The Bravest Man I Know.”  Master’s Singers then sang the “Song for Unsung Heroes,” with teacher Nancy Cross playing on the piano.

Teagle stood at the podium and asked for any student to stand if any member in their family served.  A sea of students rose in the seats, representing how much of a relationship Huntley has with the services.

“I was quite shocked at the number of juniors who stood,” said Teagle.  “It was for the veterans so they knew that there was our connection to them.  It was also to honor those who were not here with us.”

Among the veterans was former Marine Ralph Goldfarb, the grandfather of current junior Brian Goldfarb and 2010 Huntley alumna Melanie Goldfarb.

“I was a young 19-year-old and I needed the discipline,” said Goldfarb, who served from 1955-1958.  “I’m proud of the generation that is serving now, and I was proud to serve.  I love my country, and if I could, I would do it all over again.”

The ceremony concluded with Teagle connecting with both the veterans and the students.

“I hope that you will look back to this day and remember the freedoms, values and beliefs that we have in our country,” said Teagle.  “I firmly, truthfully respect and honor our country and those who have served in the military.”

*reporting contributed by Managing Editor Randi Peterson

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