Rio Hondo Honors Veteran's
For the last two decades, Rio Hondo School in El Monte City School District has honored veterans with a highly-produced assembly featuring musical and dance performances, speeches, and a luncheon sponsored by the Rio Hondo PTA. None of that seemed possible amid the pandemic, but students and staff were determined to still host the event.
“It’s really important for us to honor our veterans. This is our biggest event of the entire school year, every year, so it was just important [to us] to keep it going,” said Lisa Sepulveda, teacher at Rio Hondo who has spent the last few years working with a team of wonderful women dedicated to producing this event.
Ms. Sepulveda worked alongside fellow teacher Erin Brown, Visual and Performing Arts teacher Taryn Spink, and PTA President Janna Wilson. Together they helped organize student speakers, created musical performances, and delivered care packages aimed at thanking all those who served this country.
Leading up to Veteran’s Day, students wrote letters and made cards that were personally delivered or mailed to local veterans. Students also delivered care packages and cards to the El Monte Police Department to thank officers who are also veterans.
On Friday, November 13th, Rio Hondo hosted a virtual assembly complete with speeches from elected student body representatives. Viewers then participated in the flag salute hosted by a local girl scout troop followed by the Star Spangled Banner performed by the school's Advanced Concert Band. Audiences were captivated when students began sharing their personal connections to veterans in their lives. Rio Hondo Dance moved audiences with their emotionally charged number to Lauren Daigle’s “Rescue”. Rio Hondo Alum and current member of the Arroyo Knights Band, Joshua Luutuyen, played “Taps” on his bugle to honor those who lost their lives while serving their country. It was all capped off by Rio Hondo Chorus’ rendition of “Thank You, Soldiers” by Michael and Angela Souders, which was paired with a slideshow showcasing photos of family and friends in the armed forces.
After the success of the event, Ms. Sepulveda showed nothing but praise for the students who participated. “I think it makes them incredibly brave because they’re putting themselves out there. When you’re performing as a group, you can hide a little bit, but when you’re submitting a video of just you, it really puts yourself out there.”
Rio Hondo School has dedicated almost 20 years to honoring the veterans in their community. Student Body Vice President Kelly Nguyen said it best in her tribute, “We hope that this virtual assembly reminds you of Rio Hondo’s commitment to honoring those who serve. And although we are living through uncertain times, there is one thing that we are certain of, and that is our gratitude to this nation’s veterans.”