Each year, the Pennsbury Wall of Honor Foundation, which honors Pennsbury Graduates who have given their lives in the service of our Country, makes a presentation to students about the meaning of Veterans Day and the sacrifices made by the men and women of our Armed Services. This presentation is usually given on the actual date of Veterans Day as an “in person” event. For the last three years, the presentations have been in-person (presneters to multiple classes of students). Due to the COVID situation this past year (2020), a personal presentation was not possible, and it was decided to do it “virtually” as to not miss a year. The results were a resounding success.
Barry Miner (Class of ’64) and Jim Spahn (Class of ’64) worked closely with dedicated teachers from PHS (Aly McBryar, Mark Cherepko, Mary Cherepko and Kurt Bergmann, with tech support from Megan Swope) to develop a presentation that could be presented virtually and attended by students virtually. The presentation was made on 19 November to six separate classes of honors students with each presentation lasting approximately an hour while being facilitated by one of the PHS teachers.
As in the past, a selection of PHS Vietnam veterans spoke to each class for about 10 minutes with each talking briefly about their lives growing up within the PHS District, how PHS and its teachers shaped their thinking and impacted the ways they dealt with their military and Vietnam experiences, as well as other challenges and opportunities they experienced over the years. This year’s presenters (each representing a branch of the armed services) were: Don Bentivoglio (’65), Terry Nau (’65), Ray Parker (’64), Jim Spahn (’64) and Craig Fring (’64) representing the Army; Dave Anderson (’65) and Ed Johnson (’64) representing the Coast Guard; Terry Wallace (’64) representing the Marines; Ralph Rhodes (’64) representing the Navy; and John Armagost (’64) representing the Air Force. Barry Miner, retired Army, coordinator of the event and founder of the PHS Wall of Honor Foundation, assisted the PHS staff as a moderator.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of each year’s event is that, following the presentations, the floor is opened to students where they are able to ask questions about the Vietnam War in general and the presenter’s experiences specifically (this year questions were facilitated by a designated teacher). The questions are generally on point, interesting and usually require a moment or two to gather the proper thoughts for an adequate response. Especially this year (November 2020), it was great work on the part of the teachers and the students! If nothing else, this years’ experience has given us all a greater appreciation of the challenges that students and teachers are experiencing while making the best of a less-than-ideal academic year in a virtual environment. Their individual efforts and work are to be recognized and applauded. And, as in prior years, we Veterans who do this are always impressed by the commitment of the District and PHS administrations, PHS faculty and staff, and especially the students, in support of Veterans, and particularly PHS Alumni Veterans.
(Contact Foundation Special Advisor, Don Bentivoglio, Class of '65, Vietnam Veteran, US Army, (email@example.com), 347-524-6989)