Dieringer School District’s Salute to Veterans
The year 1970 did not represent a patriotic high-water mark for our country. It was during this time that students were burning American flags in protest of the War in Viet Nam rather than waving those flags in support of those that had fought for our freedom. Despite the political and social turmoil that had found its way into schools across our nation, it was this very year that Dieringer Middle School Principal, Ruggles Larson, launched one of his greatest initiatives, the Veterans Day Speech Contest. Mr. Larson, a former U.S. Marine, believed that if students wrote or heard speeches about the incredible sacrifices veterans had made throughout our country’s history, they would become more supportive of the efforts currently being made by those veterans on their behalf. He was both brilliant and correct.
Today the North Tapps Middle School Veterans Day Speech Contest continues to recognize America’s veterans with an evening program that includes the presentation of the colors by Boy Scout Troop 501, patriotic music provided by the NTMS band and choir and, of course, speeches. Many former Dieringer staff members have helped to carry this tradition forward. From Quentin Clark to Julie Madden to Bob Rooney to Pat Keaton, each coordinator has added their own personal touch to make this program exceptional.
This year the program underwent additional exciting changes as the Dieringer Education Foundation became the contest’s official sponsor. Foundation members also served as judges and included retired teachers, Terry Steiner and Molly Keaton as well as former NTMS Principal’s Secretary, Gen McIlrath. In addition to the medals awarded to the first, second and third place finishers in each of the three grade levels, (sixth, seventh and eighth) a cash prize was provided by the Dieringer Education Foundation to each medal winner. The result was increased participation and heightened interest in the program by the entire student body. Next year will mark the 50th anniversary of the Dieringer Veterans Day Speech Contest, and North Tapps Middle School students will again be asked to bravely step before the microphone to recognize those that have served our country. Thanks to Mr. Larson, this colorful and unique tradition is one that our district can proudly call its own.