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Morning Sun
  • NEHS performs from Vietnam play

  • UPDATED: Because of a reporter's error, the wrong last name was listed for the history teacher and her art teacher husband in an earlier version of this story. They are Gary and Susan Lofts, not Cole. The Morning Sun regrets the error.


    The Northeast High School gym was transformed into a Vietnam War field hospital Monday for a Veterans Day program sponsored by Lon M. Helm Jr. American Legion.

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  • UPDATED: Because of a reporter's error, the wrong last name was listed for the history teacher and her art teacher husband in an earlier version of this story. They are Gary and Susan Lofts, not Cole. The Morning Sun regrets the error.
    The Northeast High School gym was transformed into a Vietnam War field hospital Monday for a Veterans Day program sponsored by Lon M. Helm Jr. American Legion.
    Portions of the play “A Piece of My Heart,” a story of women who served in Vietnam, was presented by sophomore students in the American history class taught by Susan Cole and the English II class taught by Brian Smith.
    Cole noted that there are many Vietnam War veterans in the Arma legion post and many of the participating students have grandfathers who served during that time.
    “We wanted to do something that would focus on Vietnam,” she said. “I went to Washington, D.C. this summer and saw the Vietnam Wall, and it helped me understand it a lot better.”
    Cole said that she and Smith would combine their classes to rehearse whenever time permitted. Other teachers helped with the project in various ways.
    “This has really been a whole school project,” Smith said.
    Cole’s husband, Northeast art teacher Gary Cole, provided his expertise on the sets.
    “I said, ‘Gary, I want you to build me a helicopter,’ and he said, ‘Right’,” Cole said.
    However, her husband came through with an ingenious cardboard helicopter mock-up that framed a door into a locker room. At the start of the play, students in army fatigues poured through the door with stretchers bearing casualties for treatment at the field hospital.
    “We’ve been working on this for four or five weeks,” said Jaycie Hines, who  portrayed one of the army nurses in the program.
    The set also included a small-scale cardboard duplicate of the Vietnam Wall, with names on it.
    “We did a lot of research, and all the names on it are real,” Hines said.
    She said she had learned a lot and enjoyed doing the play.
    “It’s really been a good experience,” Hines said.
    Steffany Peternell, Arma American Legion Auxiliary president, said she thought the students did an excellent job and was thrilled that the gym was filled to capacity for the program.
    “I want people to see what these students do,” she said. “We’re very proud of our students.”
    Students also provided music during the program, with Ellie Dearring singing the National Anthem and the Northeast Junior High choir singing “Song for the Unsung Hero” and “You’re a Grand Old Flag.” KAY Club members led a memorial for deceased veterans of World War I, World War II, Korea and Vietnam.
    Page 2 of 2 - Speakers were Raymond Vail, Arma, American Legion Third District commander, and David Bierbrodt, Lon Helm Jr. American Legion post commander.
    Vail called on the students and nation to support those in serving overseas.
    “You cannot separate the war from the warriors,” he said.
    Vail told of the Veterans in the Classroom program, a nationwide effort.
    “Veterans are a living textbook,” he said.
    Bierbrodt also extended special recognition to Johnny “Red” Cummings, a Vietnam veteran who served with the elite Helicopter Attack Light Squadron Three, the Seawolves, who provided air support to SEALS and Special Forces fighting on the ground in Vietnam.
    Following a moment of silence for those who offered their lives in the service of their country, Elizabeth Banks played Taps and Dolores Bierbrodt, Arma auxiliary chaplain, gave the benediction. Serving in the color guard were Fred Bogina and Harry VanLeeuwen.

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