Administrators from Kyrene Akimel A-al Middle School invited community members Thursday morning to celebrate its 21st annual Patriotic Day, honoring veterans and those serving in the military.

Community members and students from Akimel filled the school’s gymnasium to understand the importance of spreading patriotism and enjoyed different musical performances.

Kindergarten students from Kyrene de los Lagos Elementary School provided a musical performance, singing “You’re a Grand Old Flag,” “This Land is Your Land,” “America the Beautiful” and “God Bless the USA.”

Patriotic Day also offered different guest speaker, one being Patricia Weegar, founding principal of the school.

“This is the most exciting day and my very favorite day of the entire school year,” Weegar said. “Patriotic Day allows the excellent educators of this school to accomplish many things; it gives a concrete basis for teaching important historical information; exposure and the learning of patriotic values; and the opportunity for students to better understand the sacrifices of veterans and active military personnel.”

Principal Mike Deignan said Patriotic Day was a way to show their appreciation to those who have served in the military.

“This is truly a special event for our Akimel community. Patriotism runs deep and is one of the most powerful concepts that embody the American society,” he said. “In an age of technology and face-pace-digital learning, sometimes I believe we simply need to stop, listen and observe as role models for patriotism.”

This has been the fourth Patriotic Day Deignan has attended as principal at Akimel, and said he looked forward to the event every year.

Leila Dalton, school secretary, has been the backbone of the Patriotic Day, assisting with the event since 1992.

“It started in 1992 when we were named World War II Memorial School and then every year after that we held a Patriotic Day,” Dalton said. “It started on the focus of World War II veterans… we still have our older veterans, but we are getting veterans come from Iraq, Vietnam and the Gulf War. We have former students who have served, or are currently serving, so I think we have more of an impact.”

The event holds a special place in Dalton’s heart because she has many family members who have served in the military.

“This has become one of our signature events,” she said. “It’s an opportunity for our families who have had family members serve to be recognized and come together as a community. When Akimel was opened, one of our goals was to be a community center, and I think this is part of that.”

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