Peterson Elementary Students Organizing Veterans Day Tribute

Students collecting donations, making video for residents of Montana Veterans’ Home

By Myers Reece
Peterson Elementary School students with a table of donations they collected for the Montana Veterans' Home at Peterson Elementary School on Nov. 4, 2020. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

Every Veterans Day, students of all grades at Peterson Elementary School in Kalispell hold in-person ceremonies to honor veterans, while the fourth-grade class organizes a fundraiser for the Montana Veterans’ Home in Columbia Falls.

Due to the pandemic this year, however, an in-person ceremony was out of the question, but that didn’t deter the kids, even with fewer students due to COVID-19. They shifted gears, with the fourth-graders modifying their annual community-service donation drive for the vets home and students of all grades making a video as a digital tribute in lieu of hosting veterans at an in-person ceremony.

The video is personalized with songs, photos and more, and will be shown in residents’ rooms at the Montana Veterans Home.

“We want to honor our veterans,” said Karissa Prewitt, the fourth-grade teacher who is organizing the efforts. Prewitt added that the kids have been “working hard to get the word out about the importance of thanking these amazing people who have sacrificed for us.”

In addition to the video, Prewitt’s fourth-graders have also been busy collecting donations requested by the residents: snacks, holiday decorations, craft projects, letters and more. Prewitt said the student-to-resident communication is always important, but particularly so in the time of COVID-19, when greater isolation can lead to mental-health worries.

“We’re trying to collect things to cheer them up and let them know we’re thinking about them,” Prewitt said.

Editor’s Note: This story has been corrected to reflect that students of all grades at Peterson Elementary School traditionally participate in the ceremonies and contributed to this year’s video.

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