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West Middle School music instructor David Foster leads the orchestra in the song, "Honor and Glory," during the Veterans Day assembly Nov. 9. Attended by students from both West Middle and Elementary schools (about 600 students in all), the event was held in the schools' shared gymnasium.
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West schools' Veterans Day speaker urges service to 'those who can't give back'

As part of his talk for the Veterans Day assembly, Sergeant Major Tony Liles presents special "challenge" coins to three school-selected students (from left): Zhyler Gilbert, Lilly Perry and Judson Brau.
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Nov. 13, 2018
       U.S. Army Sergeant Major Tony Liles emphasized the concept of “service” in a speech to the combined student bodies of West Middle and Elementary schools Nov. 9.
       The occasion in the gymnasium was the shared campus' annual Veterans Day assembly, which is open to the public.
       Also featured was the Honor Guard from the American Legion's Centennial Post 209, which ceremonially presented and removed the colors (the United States and Colorado flags). According to Eric Testorff, an Air Force veteran and the post's Honor Guard captain, the post was established in 1976 (hence the name) and is the largest post in the state, with more than 1,000 members.
       West Middle School Principal Shalah Sims and West Elementary Principal Karen Newton introduced Liles.
LEFT: Shown is one side of the military's Afghanistan "challenge coin," which was presented by Sergeant Major Tony Liles to three West Middle School students at the Veterans Day assembly Nov. 9. It's in the palm of the hand of Lilly Perry, one of the three students. Liles, a 23-year Army veteran, served three tours in Afghanistan. RIGHT: Marvin Weaver Sr. of the American Legion's Centennial Post 209 plays the bugle during the Post Honor Guard's presentation of the colors.
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       Sims identified nine staffers with military experience who are assigned to West, pointing out that they have served 95 years total. She referred to this as “Warrior sacrifice” (a reference to the school mascot).
       Over half of those years are from English teacher Deb Shipley (nearly 28 years in the Air Force) and building manager Walter Gray (20 years in the Army).
      
Posing just after the West schools' Veterans Day Assembly Nov. 9 are (from left) Sgt. Major Tony Liles, West building manager Walter Gray (who served 20 years in the Army), Liles' cousin Nick Liles (a West social worker) and Army 1st Sergeant Carlos Gonzales (who retired in 2015).
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Addressing the reason for the assembly, Newton noted that “the price of freedom is high. We can't forget those who pay it.”
       Liles currently serves as senior leader for the Fort Carson Military Personnel Division. His initial enlistment in 1995 was as an aviation operations specialist. He has since served multiple tours in America's War on Terror in Afghanistan and Iraq.
       “You are all leaders of tomorrow,” Liles told the students, then educated them about the start of Veterans Day. It was originally Armistice Day, recognizing the political agreement that officially ended World War I fighting on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918.
       For the students, Liles expanded the usual definition of military service - not just defending American freedom but “contributing to a better life for someone else,” particularly “those who have nothing to give back.”
       Part of his talk touched on special “challenge coins,” stemming from his time in Afghanistan. These are given to those who provide selfless service, he said - "all they need is a heart of grace” (quoting from Martin Luther King).
       In giving one such coin each to three school-selected West Middle students - Zhyler Gilbert (7th grade), Lilly Perry (7th grade) and Judson Brau (8th grade) - Liles challenged all the West students “to do something to improve their community.”

Westside Pioneer article
(Schools: Elementary/Middle)

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