Thanks to Stagg’s Student Council Veterans Luncheon on Friday afternoon at the school, 8015 W. 111th St., Palos Hills, students and veterans alike were able to enjoy an afternoon filled with good food, heartfelt stories, and each other’s company. (Supplied photos)

Thanks to Stagg’s Student Council Veterans Luncheon on Friday afternoon at the school, 8015 W. 111th St., Palos Hills, students and veterans alike were able to enjoy an afternoon filled with good food, heartfelt stories, and each other’s company. (Supplied photos)

Stagg welcomes 19 veterans for luncheon

By Kelly White

In honor of Veterans Day, local area teens took time to reflect on our nation’s heroes.

Thanks to Stagg’s Student Council Veterans Luncheon on Friday afternoon at the school, 8015 W. 111th St., Palos Hills, students and veterans alike were able to enjoy an afternoon filled with good food, heartfelt stories, and each other’s company.

“I loved how many of the veterans got to spend some time and share their stories with other veterans,” Heba Rashid, 17, of Hickory Hills, said. “It was also really nice to hear their stories just because of how unique each one was and because of how excited they were just to be able to talk about what life was like for them.”

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Stagg’s Veterans Luncheon welcomed 19 veterans, who served or are serving in the Armed Forces, including one WWII veteran, Rich Olund of Palos Park.

Being able to be together meant so much to everyone involved, Rashid said.

“Seeing all the smiles on their faces really showed how happy they were with their families and other veterans, so my favorite part was seeing how much they enjoyed their time here with us,” Rashid said.

The event was free and welcomed 19 veterans, who served or are currently serving in the Armed Forces, including one WWII veteran.

Veterans were able to attend with their family members and/or caregivers.

All veterans in attendance were invited in many ways, including some being a personal family member. Stagg Student Council members also created formal invitations that were mailed and emailed to local area VFW Posts, libraries, independent living communities, rehab communities and long-term care facilities.

“Students benefit from this event because they have the opportunity to connect with Veterans on a personal basis and hear their stories,” Mary Reynolds, Stagg teacher and Student Council sponsor, said. “We believe this helps students develop a stronger sense of empathy which will in-turn help students become a more valuable member of the Stagg community.”

During the event, Stagg’s Student Council honored local veterans with a student produced video, a thank you speech, and a boxed breakfast. In addition, the Madrigals Choir group will perform the national anthem.

“We enjoy watching students put so much effort into something they are passionate about,” Reynolds said. “We are always impressed with their creativity when planning such events.”

Past veteran’s luncheons at the high school gathered together more than 80 local area veterans.

As with many things, including the luncheon, the pandemic played a role in the reorganization of the event. Staff and students were sure to make the day as enjoyable as possible for everyone in attendance, while also adhering to all of Illinois’ COVID-19 guidelines, including capacity and social distancing.

“This year, we needed to be more creative due to COVID restrictions and these students really took a moment to think outside of the box to create a memorable experience for our veterans,” Reynolds said.

Students were happy with the turnout, as well, including Juliana Petrov.

“It was wonderful to see so many veterans come out today with their families,” Petrov, 17, of Palos Hills, said. “The Stagg community was very grateful to have the opportunity spend the day with them and to hear their stories.”

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