Thomas Jefferson HS salutes veterans

West Jefferson Hills School District  |  Posted on

TJ Senior class president Shanice McNeil addresses the Salute to Veterans audience

Thomas Jefferson High School (TJ) students and staff honored and celebrated local veterans, including TJ graduates who’ve died in the line of duty, on Thursday during an uplifting Salute to Veterans recognition at the school. The day began with a breakfast for the veterans and local first responders, with more than 50 attending the breakfast and program. Flanked by a huge American flag in the theater, the TJ band, orchestra and choir performed several patriotic songs, including a rousing Armed Forces Salute compilation to end the program.

The audience of veterans and the entire TJ student body and staff heard from U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Michael Thatcher and USMC Cpl. Joe Lemphere. A TJ graduate, Thatcher noted that Nov. 10 is the official birthday of the Marines Corps.

Louise Biddle, a retired teacher from WJHSD and community leader, gave the Invocation and TJ senior class president Shanice McNeil gave the welcome address. Thomas Jefferson HS principal Pete Murphy was the emcee and primary organizer of the salute.

Thomas Jefferson’s two Veterans of Foreign Wars Voice of Democracy essay winners – senior Rachael Parsons and junior Alex Blaker – read their essays during the program. The theme for the essays was, “Why is the Veteran Important?”

Two TJ students, Theo Doerfler and Kaylin Peters, presented a slideshow and spoke about the 10 TJ graduates who’ve died in service to our nation in Vietnam, Lebanon and Iraq. They are: Robert Guy Brown, Charles Thomas Lee, Thomas Burkhardt, James Dewar, Frederick P. Gillen, Thomas V. Haas, Robert Doering, David C. Bruggeman, Richard A. Morrow and Steven W. Freund.

A memorial plaque with the names of the 10 deceased servicemen is located in front of TJHS.

Two additional Jaguar students spoke during the program. Andy Graham introduced the TJTV Video Production, “Thank You Veterans,” and Aiden Oeler spoke about the meaning of each song in the Armed Forces Salute.

The recognition event was held Thursday due to the TJ Marching Band’s participation in Friday’s Pittsburgh Veterans Day Parade.

An archived stream of the Veterans Day program is available online.