A message from Superintendent Charles Smialek, Ph.D.
May 13, 2019
I had the honor of attending Friday evening Valley Forge History Club’s unveiling of their Memorial to Vietnam Veterans who attended their school. I’ve been to similar events throughout my career and expected a short ceremony with a few speeches, some half-hearted clapping, and a ribbon-cutting or two.
Instead, the students of Valley Forge’s History Club planned and delivered an incredibly impressive celebration that reminds us all of the power of our school district to be a cultural center of our communities.
The History Club, with the inspiring leadership of Amy Byrne and Michael Stringer, did not miss a detail in organizing this evening. Poignant, tear-jerking speeches from family members of veterans who lost their lives fighting for our country led to recognition of all the audience members who served in our military as the Valley Forge band played each branch’s anthem.
The crowd then made their way through the halls of their alma mater, stopping to tell loved one stories about the pictures they passed as they traveled. A beautiful May sunset greeted all of us as we stepped toward the focal point of the evening. The Valley Forge choir sang the Star Spangled Banner as the friends and family wiped one more tear from their cheeks.
A motorcycle serenade of at least 50 bikes passed, one last dramatic nod to our local heroes. Then, Parma Heights Mayor Michael Byrne dedicated the beautifully creative honorarium and all took a few moments to walk by and express their gratitude and awe.
This ceremony was largely student led, though students always need our guidance, support, and wisdom as they work. Thank you to Amy and Michael for providing the advice and inspiration that facilitated such a meaningful night.
Our school district, by our very mission of lifting each successive generation into a fulfilling life, will always serve as a beacon of hope for our families and residents. On this night, though, we were reminded of the importance and power of also being a connector of the many generations who have walked our halls and learned in our classrooms.
Attendees Friday night spanned multiple decades of graduating classes; all came away with an enhanced sense of pride for their connection to Valley Forge.