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St. Regis School continues Veterans Day breakfast tradition

by MONTE TURNER
Mineral Independent | November 17, 2021 12:00 AM

Asking the gracious group of veterans and their families at the St. Regis School cafeteria how many years the school has hosted the Veterans Day Breakfast and there is silence.

“I’ve been around 10 years and they have done it for all of that time,” replied Scott Burrows, American Legion Adjutant of the Ray Welch Post 13 in St. Regis. “It’s always open to any veteran, and it seems that most who attend come from our post.”

At 0800 hours Thursday, Nov. 11, the school band, with a couple of special guest musicians, Denley Loge on trombone and Shelly Larson with the alto saxophone, belted out a montage of every services theme song followed by a few patriotic tunes all ages in attendance appreciated.

Derek Larson, St. Regis music teacher and newly appointed School Superintendent, proudly waved his baton as the student musicians were clearly enjoying themselves.

“I’ve always been excited to be a part of this celebration as I believe it is a unique thing the school does for its veterans.”

Larson started as the music instructor in 2011 and knows the event has been going on at least that long. Asked if he was continuing as the music teacher for the high school in Mullan, Idaho, he said, “For the moment, yes. I’m still driving over in the morning. Then teaching music classes here in the afternoon and then ‘superintendenting’ to

all hours of the night,” he said with a laugh.

Ron Forest served in the Navy Seabees in Vietnam and hails from Saltese, Montana. He graduated from St. Regis High School and has attended six or eight of the Veterans Day breakfasts. He appreciates this tribute and strongly supports the school.

“It’s a good school. Good kids. We got a new superintendent and he’s a good man. A Helluva band man, for sure.”

Another veteran enjoying the biscuits and gravy was Army veteran John Cheeseman, who also served in Vietnam in the early 1960s.

“We were some of the first people over there. I was in a field medical group in Saigon and Da Nang.”

Cheeseman, when asked how many breakfasts he’s attended, moved the meter on when the school initiated this event. “Oh, I don’t know. 10 or 12 years, I guess. It’s a good time to visit with friends and nice of the school, he said. Not knowing how many extra breakfasts to prepare each year isn’t troubling for Dawn Palmer who calls herself the Kitchen Witch as she’s been in the school kitchen for two decades.

“10 or 12 years sounds about right”, when asked if she remembers when it began. “I just want to say, ‘Thank you for your service’ and thank you for showing up and we’ll try to keep doing this every year” as she smiles.

Once the chow line slowed down, New Day Fellowship Church Pastor Morris Hill gave a short talk on ‘exceptionalism’ to the cafeteria crowd that included more students, families and administration.

Exceptionalism in schools, our country and the Armed Forces. Hill is a veteran from the Gulf War himself, so he has walked the walk.

“Our school is exceptional in how patriotic we are. How they love America and appreciate the veterans. This is one of the best schools I’ve seen.”

Morris has lived and served in the St. Regis church for two years.

Students had made posters with American flags and eagles and families sharing a meal and smiling faces with THANK YOU on each one that they gave to the veterans.

All the armed forces service flags are permanently displayed in the cafeteria and this morning was filled with red, white and blue balloons and placemats.

So, not knowing when this special day began at the St. Regis School doesn’t seem to matter as it has no obvious plans of ever stopping.

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