B-A grad teaches students about the meaning of service

Gensamer speaks at annual Veterans Day assembly


Kaelynn Behrens

Mikki Gensamer, a Nevy veterans and graduate of Bellwood-Antis, spoke to students at Wednesday’s Veterans Day assembly about service.

Mikki Gensamer, a 2010 graduate of Bellwood-Antis High School, returned to her alma mater Wednesday to speak about the reality of service to one’s country and its impact on veterans once their time in the military has ended.

Gensamer, who enlisted in the Navy the summer following her graduation, said that for many veterans, it’s a challenge to figure out just where they fit in once their official service to our country has ended.

“Many veterans come home and struggle for meaning,” she said to the approximately 400 students who attended the high school’s annual Veterans Day assembly. “Some may wonder if they made a difference and feel like no one cares.”

Gensamer said that many veterans live in a state of limbo between civilian and military life, and they wonder how to relate to the people and the world around them.

“Some assimilate, and some hold on,” she said.

Gensamer was the featured speaker at the yearly assembly held in honor of veterans serving our nation and those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice.

The program began with the presentation of the American flag by Dan Kustaborder, Kenny Robison, and Tyler McCaulskey, members of the Boy Scouts.

Veterans want to know you care as much as we do. It makes us feel like we’re part of a team again.”

— Mikki Gensamer

The Bellwood-Antis chorus, under the direction of Ms. Beth Hull, then sang several patriotic songs, including “The Star Spangled Banner,” and “God Bless America,” which featured a solo by Robert VanKirk.

A select ensemble from the Bellwood-Antis band, which included band director Mr. Patrick Sachse, Kyra Woomer, Alex Foose, Alanna Vaglica, Kaitlyn Farber, Dominic Tornatore, and Julie Bauer, then played patriotic instrumentals, including a United States Armed Forces Medley.

Gensamer then took the podium, and explained to students how they can best show their appreciation to veterans for their service.

“The best way you can say thank you is through service – in whatever capacity,” Gensamer said. “Veterans want to know you care as much as we do. It makes us feel like we’re part of a team again.”

Another way Gensamer offered for showing thanks is for citizens to make themselves better aware of our government and the way it works. She cited several eye-opening figures from the Annenberg Public Policy Center that demonstrated Americans’ general lack of understanding of the First Amendment and the workings of the branches of the government.

She said students can show they are thankful “by not being apathetic.”

“Educate yourself. It shows you are grateful,” Gensamer said.

Following Gensamer’s speech, the tech club, under the guidance of Ms. Jamie Forshey, presented a video featuring teachers and students from B-A expressing their gratitude for the service of our veterans.

The assembly concluded with the retiring of the colors, followed by more patriotic music played by the band ensemble as students exited the auditorium.