Long Beach Middle School Teacher Lauren Behan talks to Patch about two programs aimed at instilling patriotism in students.
Lauren Behan, a seventh-grade English Teacher at Long Beach Middle School, is among a team of teachers at the school that run an annual Veterans Day program that honors local veterans who give students first-hand accounts of their experience in wars.
As part of the program, a Field of Honor is erected outside the district’s administration building on Lido Boulevard. Last year, when the program was inaugurate, nearly 100 flags were sponsored and flown in the names of different veterans. The proceeds from the flags are used to sponsor children from military families to attend camps, and for scholarship funds for military-bound Long Beach High School graduates.
This year, Field of Honor will be constructed once again. The program was started by the middle school and Kiwanis Club. Working together, the two groups reach out to school and community members. There are two sponsor options. One is a flag sponsorship, in which an individual can sponsor a military member by purchasing a flag in his or her name. These flags are flown on individual flagpoles accompanied by the name of military members. The other option is a corporate sponsorship in which business or groups may make a donation and have the business/group name displayed on a banner in front of the field. Last year, nearly 20 corporate sponsorships were made.
Behan sat down with Patch recently to answer some questions about the programs.Who originated the idea for the Field of Honor?
Five years ago, Team 7-1 invited a small group of Vietnam veterans to speak to 100 students. To thank them for their service, students created a framed mural for the veterans to take back to their local VFW. The following year, the program expanded and veterans from various wars attended the event. Students created a tile mural that represented the different wars. This mural was dedicated to the veterans and displayed in the Hall of Heroes in Long Beach Middle School. Each year, students worked on a different project to honor the veterans. Last year, inspired by a program in his home community, Team 7-1 social studies teacher, Buddy Hoffman, brought the Field of Honor to Long Beach as a service project to honor our veterans. What have you and the other teachers learned about running the Field of Honor program that you may not have anticipated?
The Long Beach community once again proved how giving and generous it can be. Initially, a small space was designated for the Field of Honor to be erected. Because of the enormous community response and generous donations from the community, the first Field of Honor was a much larger success than we could have imagined. Because of this, we also came to learn of the large number of veterans living right in our own community. The stories we have learned from these individuals is incredible. Much more attention and respect needs to be paid to these brave men and women who have sacrificed so much. What kinds of camps do children from military families attend through the program?
This past summer, the Kiwanis Club sponsored children to attend the Kiwanis Camp in upstate New York. There was also scholarship money awarded to Long Beach High School graduates who were continuing their education in the military.
How have middle school students benefited most from the Veterans Day Program? Students have learned lessons that could never be taught by reading a textbook. No matter how innovative a teacher is, there is nothing like hearing the actual experience of a wartime veteran. Each year students express their awe of these men and women and seem to walk away with a true sense of patriotism and a new understanding of why honoring and remembering these men and women on not only Veterans Day, but every day, is extremely important. Instilling a sense of pride in our nation and the importance of citizenship is crucial for our students. Veterans Day is a great way to reinforce these values. What are the long-term goals of the Field of Honor program?
Most importantly, we hope the Field of Honor will remind veterans that they are remembered and appreciated. Additionally, we hope that by seeing flags flying each day will help others in the community remember and honor veterans around them. As the program moves forward, it is our hope that the program can expand. As more community members and organizations become involved in the program, more veterans can be honored. The more people that are involved, the more flags we can fly through the community and the more veterans we can honor.
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