On Centre | Bald Eagle Area: Honor guards earn recognition

On Centre: Bald Eagle AreaJune 17, 2014 

This time, the honor guards were the ones honored.

Recently, the Snow Shoe Lions Club presented its 2014 Mountaintop Outstanding Citizen Award to the honor guards of the American Legion Post 813 in Clarence and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5644 in Snow Shoe.

Mike Drapcho, the club’s secretary, said groups have received the award before, but it’s the first time for the local posts.

“The award is given to people or organizations who, by their deeds or actions toward others, make the Mountaintop area a better place for our citizens to live,” Drapcho said.

Drapcho said the two posts have been assisting at military services for veterans since the end of World War II, with the American Legion post leading the way shortly after the war.

“The first honor guards wore their military uniforms,” he said.

The all-volunteer honor guards were recognized at the Lions Club’s regular meeting in the Moshannon Community Center.

In many communities, honor guards are shrinking or disappearing as fewer younger veterans step up to replace guard mainstays from the World War II and Korean War generations.

But the Mountaintop guards are still going strong. To commemorate their dedication, plaques for the posts read: “In appreciation for conducting military services for our deceased veterans with Dignity, Respect, and Honor.”

Accepting the awards were Mike Kachik, a member of Post 813’s firing squad; Scott Lyncha, the Post 813 commander; Sgt. Tammy Romine, a former Post 5644 commander; and Joe Basalla, the Post 5644 sergeant-of-arms.

Special event for special kids

Milesburg resident Sandy Dieterle liked what she saw last year from Bald Eagle Area High School physical education teachers Don Peters and Charles Cowan.

She liked it even more the second time around — so much she couldn’t keep her appreciation to herself.

At a recent BEA school district board meeting, Dieterle expressed her gratitude for the field day that Peters and Cowan again organized for about 70 special needs students in Life Skills classrooms in the BEA, Bellefonte and Penns Valley school districts.

Held May 29 on the BEA football field, the event featured various activities, a sprinkler made from a hose peppered with holes, and unlimited snow cones.

In a short speech to board members, Dieterle, a personal care aide for special needs student Micah Heckathorne, praised the teachers and the BEA honor students who helped for “making this an exceptional day for the kids.”

“I just thought, ‘You know what? People need to know about this. They need to know what they did,’ ” Dieterle said Tuesday.

Heckathorne, an eighth-grader from Zion, accompanied her. During their presentation, they showed a 3-minute video of the field day that Dieterle said left no dry eyes in the room.

Last year, Dieterle said, Peters and Cowan organized the event as an alternative to the regular field day for mainstream students.

“Usually the Life Skills kids aren’t included, or the things are too hard and they can’t do them,” Dieterle said.

As they did last year, the teachers set up bean bag and ball tosses, nets for kicking soccer balls, modified bowling and other activities. Then they dispensed plenty of hugs and pats on the back.

“It was just fantastic,” Dieterle said Tuesday. “It didn’t have to cost $1,000. And the best part of this, all of the kids know each other pretty much. They were all hugging, reunited, happy to see each other. It was just a great day.”

Chris Rosenblum writes a weekly column about news in the Upper and Lower Bald Eagle valleys. If you have news to share, email crosenblum@centredaily.com or call 231-4620.

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