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Saluting our veterans — Brookhaven Academy honors those who served with a special Veterans Day program

Col. Lynn Pippen, a veteran of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, stood humbled before his heroes at Brookhaven Academy.

Pippen, retired Army and a father of two BA Cougars, spoke at the annual Veterans Day assembly Wednesday. Fifty-five veterans and their family — along with the entire student body — was in attendance.

He said he was in awe to speak to the veterans there.

“They’re the greatest class there is,” he said. I was among heroes. I was honored and humbled and almost unworthy at times.”

Pippen, of Monticello, challenged the 485 students — including his children, fourth-grader Kiley and kindergartner Brenna Kate — to honor veterans by living a life filled with integrity.

“I told them to live a life with honor, honest work and integrity, and simply doing the right thing,” he said.

This was the first year that Pippen has been able to attend the Veterans Day brunch. He’d been the JROTC instructor in Brandon, but he’s now at Franklin County High School. The JROTC color guard also attended the BA event.

“Brookhaven Academy does probably the best job of any institution I know of honoring our veterans,” he said.

He’s also impressed with the administration for teaching the students honor and respect for veterans.

Counselor Brandi Barrett said students look forward to this celebration of veterans each year.

“It’s always been a very sacred tradition at Brookhaven Academy,” she said. “It’s probably one of the most important things that we do. The veterans are near to our hearts.”

The event has been held on or before Veterans Day for at least a decade. All of the students and most administrators and even family members play a part in it.

Dorothy LeBlanc’s seventh- and eighth-grade students interviewed veterans and represented more than 70 heroes on posters on display in the lobby where the guests of honor could see them.

Patriotic art displays were provided by elementary and high school art students and their teachers, Dylia Greer and Brandy Johnson.

Members of the National Honor Society, student council and the Jr. High Honor Society and their sponsors, Deanna Culbertson, LeBlanc, Dawn Freeman, Denise Sbravati and Elizabeth Stewart served at the brunch. Tonya Rushing and Carolyn Crapps assisted with flowers for the event.

Student Council President Kaitlyn Van Norman welcomed everyone to the program, while Student Council Vice President Dawson Flowers offered the invocation.

The Franklin County High School JROTC presented the colors, followed by Jr. Historical Society Vice President Jarrett Lea reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and music teacher Lawana Latham singing the national anthem.

Seventh-graders and seniors dual-enrolled in Copiah-Lincoln Community College’s English Composition I wrote essays that were judged by a panel at BA.

Seventh-graders Isabelle Nelson and Sara Rodgers Smith and seniors Summer Hill and Cameron Watson were chosen to read their essays during the program.

Elementary music students in first through sixth grades performed a salute to the armed forces which included a tribute to each branch. Veterans stood as they heard their branch’s theme song.

The music students also performed “This is My Country” which featured high school music students Marin Anding, Caroline Nations, Ashley Sanders and Adrienne Smith.

The program came to an emotional end as former BA board President Anthony Bell performed taps.