Many schools remember Veterans Day by staying closed, but Joel Barlow High School used this day of remembrance to provide students with the opportunity to hear from veterans who have served and defended our country.

“It’s important for our students to know these first-person stories that they aren’t going to get from a book,” said Dr. Mario Almedia, head of Joel Barlow High School.

The veterans attending the event were: Brandon Lopiano, Jim Cyr, Dave Belcourt, Charles Blanchard, Paul Lindoerfer, Andy Ipkovich, Ed Soderberg, Sgt. Andrew Dahl, Dameon Kellogg (also Barlow assistant principal), Eugene Clarke, and Chris Davis.

Students listen to veterans share their experiences.

The veterans taught valuable lessons to the students by speaking to them about their experiences serving in the Korean, Vietnam and Afghanistan wars, and in different branches of the military.

Dr. Mario Almedia created six different sessions during which the students could listen to the veterans. Each of the veterans took turns telling their story and then answered questions from the students. The veterans also shared photographs from their experiences.

Among the veterans who attended the event was Eugene J Clark of Redding, a disabled veteran of the Korean War, who was exposed to toxins in the demilitarized zone (DMZ), the region on the Korean peninsula that separates North Korea from South Korea.

Students look at photos shared by veterans.

Charles Blanchard, a Vietnam veteran, came to clear up any misconceptions the students have about veterans and service to the country. 

Andrew Dahl, a Marine veteran, said he loves to be able to share stories about his time in the military.

Ralph Giordano, an English teacher at the high school, said the visit from veterans provides students with a connection to living history. “Serving one’s country, that’s an act of selflessness, that’s an act of patriotism, that’s an act of courage,” Giordano said.

  • Veterans, Paul Lindoerfer (left) & Dave Belcourt share their stories with the students.
  • Veteran, Eugene Clarke.
  • Veteran, Sgt. Andrew Dahl.

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