MILTON — Normally you enter the Milton Middle School and you are greeted by waves of orange and black. Not on Friday. The school was transformed into a sea of red, white and blue as nearly 100 veterans were honored by students, staff and administration.

Veterans entered the school, welcomed by students waving American flags and holding posters recognizing their service. The veterans were also treated to lunch, which afforded students the opportunity to sit with, and talk to, those who served their country.

It’s an annual event for the school, however this year saw the number of veterans taking part swell as more students became involved, and more took an interest.

“The students want to be involved,” said Ellen Stauffer, the school’s physical education/health teacher, and daughter of veteran Ernie Gromlich. “Years ago we did T-shirts and the students bought them and put the names of veterans on the back. It’s just evolved. We added the luncheon component and food service has been great. The first year, we had maybe 20 veterans.”

Another organizer, Natalie Easton, the enrichment teacher and librarian, noted it’s a team effort to include Principal Greg Scoggins, Stauffer and Ame Reynolds, sixth-grade teacher, among many others.

“We’re so thankful for Mr. Scoggins’ support to do this,” she said. “Milton is doing great things for our students and the community. This is just one thing, and there’s more to come.”

Student Kaleb Eger, a seventh grader, took his involvement a step further and organized a fundraiser to benefit Wreaths for Warriors.

“My grandfather (Bill Sollenberger, of Roaring Spring) is a Vietnam veteran,” said Eger. “I grew up interested in it, and always wanted to know what people went through when they served to protect us.”

Eger collected enough to purchase 180 wreaths for placement in cemeteries this Christmas season.

“I heard there wasn’t enough money for wreaths for every veteran this year,” said Eger.

The school used social media to get the word of the day’s events to the community, as well as word of mouth and the students themselves.

Donations for Wreaths for Warriors are still being collected and can be made through the Milton Middle School and Natalie Easton. Past events raised funds for Pa. Wounded Warriors.

Chris Brady is managing editor at The Standard-Journal and can be reached at chris@standard-journal.com.

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