Williams Unified School District staff dressed down on Nov. 6 as a way to show their students that they, too, could honor veterans of the military.
Teachers wore blue jeans to school and to Williams Upper Elementary School’s annual Veterans Day assembly.
Jeans for Troops is a fundraiser for the GI Go Fund, which was founded in 2006 in memory of Lt. Seth Dvorin, who was killed while serving in Iraq.
In order to wear jeans to school that day, Williams teachers and staff donated $5 or more each to the fund, which helps veterans find jobs, start a business, access health care, financial and legal aid, and other unique services, said Toni Rivera, WUE site secretary, who organizes the annual event at the school just before the Veterans Day holiday.
“The fund was created in his honor to be sure that no military members’ sacrifice and bravery are ever forgotten, and that our veterans are taken care of when they return home,” Rivera said.
The brief assembly was held at the start of the school day, as students gathered to participate in the raising of the U.S. and California flags by members of Colusa VFW Post No. 2441 and Maxwell American Legion Post No. 218.
WUSD Trustee George Simmons, a retired U.S. Army Airborne Ranger, stepped in for Principal Hector Gonzalez, who usually officiates at the ceremony.
“I think this is an honor,” said Simmons, who briefly reminded students about the purpose of the Nov. 11 holiday that marks the end of World War I.
“Veterans Day honors all those who served the country in war or peace, dead or alive, although it is largely intended to thank living veterans for their sacrifices,” Simmons said.
Simmons also told students about the recently-introduced “Thank You Veterans” flag that honors the patriotic services and sacrifice of this nation’s veterans.
The new flag depicts five gold stars to represent the five branches of the military, as two soldiers – a man and a woman – salute, which signifies the dignity of service to country and citizens.
“Proceeds from the flag go to building homes for veterans,” said Simmons, who has the flag flying at his own home.
The Nov. 6 ceremony at Williams Upper Elementary also featured performance by the choir, led by music instructor Max Stout. Students Lorielle Contreras led the Pledge of Allegiance and Miguel Murillo and Matthew Cervantes assisted the veterans with the flag presentation. Candice Bersola-Vallejos, Williams Unified seal coach, performed the National Anthem.
Among those in attendance were Williams Police Chief Jim Saso and Rivera’s son, John Rivera, who just completed four years of service with the U.S. Air Force. ■