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SCHS Veterans Day program celebrates 25th anniversary

The Mountain Press - 10/29/2017

SEVIERVILLE -- It's not unusual for students to show up at Tabatha Ogle's classroom door in August to sign up for an event that happens in November.

The students are hopeful participants in the annual Veterans Day show, and many who come to Ogle on the first day of school want to carry a specific flag in recognition of a family member in the military. This year, the three-performance "Smoky Salutes" show at Sevier County High School celebrates its 25th year. The theme for 2017 is "All Our Best."

Ogle, who teaches world history at SCHS, has served as the show's coordinator since 2004. She recalls the days before a tractor trailer began delivering a big stage to the school each year, as well as performances mounted with less-than-ideal equipment.

"'Smoky Salutes' began because Gary Roach, Jennifer Laster and Carolyn Whaley decided that there should be a recognition for our veterans in the area," Ogle said. "The band would play in what we affectionately called 'the cage,' where our wrestling team currently practices in the gym. We now rent a much larger stage that comes in on a tractor trailer, and our multimedia portion of the show is shown from the cage area."

The show incorporates elements of dance, drama and music. Ogle said she and other planners have reviewed previous shows to incorporate portions of some of the performances dating to 1993.

"Each year the show has a different theme," she said. "In the past, we have honored our community's veterans by producing shows titled 'American Soldier,' 'Battle Notes,' (and) 'Song of a Soldier,' just to name a few. Veterans are recognized at every show for their service to our country."

One show involves multiple specialties, with students working in units to create the finished performance. Ogle described what happens in the months - and moments - leading up to the show.

"We have approximately 350 students participating once all students are included: band, choir, cheerleaders, dance team, strike crew, tech crew, culinary arts, drama department, grounds crew, decorating committee, art department and (the) many other students who work behind the scenes to make the show happen each year," said Ogle. "Readers should know that the students truly enjoy performing in the show each year to honor the veterans in our community."

The 25-year tradition represents a two-way street, according to Ogle.

"Being part of the Veterans Day show at SCHS is a wonderful way for students to show our veterans in the community how important they are to our students," she said. "The show is also a way for our students to learn about our veterans and the price they have paid to give our students the freedoms they enjoy each day."

The Veterans Day program "Smoky Salutes" is free to attend. Performances are scheduled for 6:30 p.m., Nov. 2; 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., Nov. 3. All shows take place at Sevier County High School, 1200 Dolly Parton Parkway, Sevierville. For additional information, call 865-453-5525.

 
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