By Rob Wheary, Staff Writer • firstname.lastname@example.org
HEGINS – Capt. Jen Renninger remembers sitting where the students of Tri-Valley High School sat on Nov. 11, listening to the speakers during the annual Veteran’s Day program at the school.
This year, the 1999 graduate was in front of the students and a group of local veterans speaking to them all.
“I remember running the halls with Mr. McDonald, getting in shape for the service. Little did I know we would be back together in Iraq,” Renninger said.
Renninger shared videos with the students of her time in Ramadi, Iraq, serving in a medical unit in 2005 and 2006.
“We treated 11,000 soldiers in the field, 2,000 of them being trauma cases and airlifted 83 soldiers and two dogs for further treatment,” Renninger said.
Renninger, who is now a physician’s assistant and the deputy state surgeon for the Pennsylvania Army National Guard, told the students for their future to find that one thing they love and go for it. For her, it was her time in the military.
“I’ve traveled all over the country and around the world and my life has changed for the better because of it,” Renninger said. “I want to leave you with a quote I love to live by, ‘Being happy doesn’t mean everything is perfect. It means you’re willing to look beyond the imperfection.’”
Also offering remarks at the program was State Rep. Mike Tobash, who said this was his 15th year with attending the program.
“I thank you, the veterans sitting here and all the veterans around for serving for our freedom and remember those that paid the ultimate sacrifice. You are all near and dear to our hearts,” Tobash said.
The program also featured the national anthem sung by the school chorus, the orchestra playing “Salute to America’s Finest,” the playing of Taps to honor the fallen soldiers, and the presentation of the winners of the Masons’ Americanism Essay contest.
The district also announced that the school’s second annual Warrior Challenge will be held Friday, Dec. 23 in the high school gym.
Students will raise money to participate in a special military-based obstacle course. Medals will be awarded for the fastest times, most money raised and for those with the most heart.
Last year’s challenge raised $7,500 and money raised this year will benefit the Pa. Wounded Warriors Inc., an organization dedicated to providing emergency financial assistance to veterans to help pay for housing, utilities, transportation, medical and other expenses.
No goal was set for this year’s event as the students were challenged to see how much money they could raise this year.