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South Effingham Middle School honors veterans
James Sapp2c Gracie Phillips and Bella Sapp
World War II veteran James Sapp is joined by student speakers Gracie Phillips and Bella Sapp. - photo by Photo provided

South Effingham Middle School hosted a Veterans Day program in the school gymnasium on Nov. 11.

Staff and students were joined by veterans and honored guests. Retired Col. Pete Iott, former SEMS principal, served as the honored speaker. Student speakers included Rhett Hatcher, Bella Sapp, Andrew Lamon and Gracie Phillips. Tabitha Olsen presented the colors.

Patriotic folk art winners were Abigail Cheney, Katelyn Davis and Thomas Head. These projects were chosen by local veterans for their patriotism and inspiration. Each project was created by a SEMS art student under the instruction of Mike Gadomski.

There was a special presentation to Staff Sgt. (ret.) James T. Sapp, U.S. Army, for his service in World War II.

The SEMS band, under the direction of Bryan Agan, performed “Fanfare Americana,” a medley of service songs and “Hymn to the Fallen.” The SEMS honor choir, led by Tressa Woodard and Ray Ellis, performed the national anthem and “Thank You Soldiers.”

The program concluded with closing remarks from SEMS principal April Hodges and a solo performance of “Taps” by Bryan Agan.

In addition to the program, the staff and students of SEMS raised more than $1,200 to send to the Matthew Freeman Project, a non-profit organization named for Richmond Hill Marine Corps Capt. Matthew Freeman, a C-130 pilot killed in action in Afghanistan in 2009.

The organization supports education and peace throughout the world.