With Veterans Day upon us, fourth graders spent time with guidance counselor, Elizabeth Petersen, discussing Veterans Day and how to actively participate in honoring veterans. As students read a handout and answered questions, it was apparent that they were building upon a basic foundation of knowledge. Hands went up throughout the classroom to answer questions about the date and different ways to celebrate and honor veterans. Upon digging a little deeper, students learned that the day began as a celebration to the end of World War l and the differences between Veterans Day and Memorial Day.
As students discussed the fact that a veteran is anyone who has served in the Armed Forces, Petersen drew attention to her smart board to show a video from Michael Leathers, the brother of 5th grade teacher, Amy Blau. Leathers is currently serving in Afghanistan as a Platoon Sergeant in the United States Army. This is his fifth oversees tour. Initially joining because of 9/11, Leathers shared with the students about his experience and that the military has been a great job for him.
Emotions grew as Peterson then focused the students’ attention to a different face pulled onto the smart board, It was that of Corporal Samual “Sam” Dawson Koppen. Students were about to learn that Sam is the son of their very own teacher, Mrs. Diana Koppen, who was with them during Peterson’s lesson. Sam, a 2014 graduate of Spencer High School, shared his story with the students via an email from North Carolina, where he is currently stationed.
Even though Sam was only a kindergartner when the United States was forever changed by the events of 9/11, the attacks eventually had a profound impact on his life. At a young age, Sam developed a love for the American Flag and the military. Because of 9/11 and the example set by his grandfather who served in World War ll, Sam decided that he wanted to stand up for his beliefs and his country.
After a trip to Sioux City to meet with recruiters from different military branches, Sam felt that becoming a Marine was the best fit. It was then that he heard and continues to live by the question, “Do you want to become something bigger than yourself?” After graduating from Spencer High School in 2014, and boot camp at Camp Pendleton in San Diego, CA, Sam headed to Missouri where he started his career as a Marine, specializing in the Motor Transportation Division. He has recently
Now a corporal, Sam is headed in new and exciting directions, but above all, he shared that he wants to serve something bigger than himself, and he looks forward to serving his country each day with pride. He advised the students that no matter what they do, they should strive for high goals and work hard to achieve them, and ended by saying, “Do you want to become something bigger than yourself?”
Spencer Community Schools would like to thank Sergeant First Class Leathers, Corporal Koppen and all men and women serving our country.