RB adapts to recognize veterans


RB will be unable to recognize thei community’s veterans as we could before COVID.

Ana Nava, Staff Reporter

Since 1998, Riverside Brookfield High School has celebrated Veterans’ Day with an assembly. The first assembly was planned when former Social Studies Department Chair Bill Jirkovsky wanted Veterans’ Day to be more than just a day off of school. He knew having the veterans face-to-face would forge a connection and provide a much deeper understanding of the holiday. After getting approval from RB’s administration, the Board of Education, and the State of Illinois, Jirkovsky went on to put together the assembly beloved by the RB community. Because of COVID-19, RB has been forced to alter its Veteran’s Day celebration.

“…we didn’t think it’d be a safe idea to bring the entire student body to the main gym as well as to have 60 to 80 visiting veterans,” Dr. Skinkis, RB’s Superintendent, said.

In the past, students and veterans would sit together in the Main Gym to watch RB’s Music Department perform the Armed Forces Salute, a medley of the National Anthem and all of the military anthems. After the assembly, students would break off into classrooms and hear the experiences of a veteran during their time of service.

This year, students will have an extended second period to watch the video RBTV put together with the Veterans’ Day Assembly Planning Team. One member of this group is Social Studies Instructional Coach and teacher, Erin Cunningham.

“..we tried to incorporate what people have grown to love about what we traditionally do. There will be the musical performances. Then we invited veterans to come to RB, and they recorded interviews. For people who weren’t available for interviews and would have liked to come, we have asked them to send in photos of themselves, and our plan is to display them in the atrium area,” Cunningham said.

Also vital parts of this project were, James Baum and Kayley Smetana, teachers in the Music Department. In tandem with Baum and Smetana, Gary Prokes, the RBTV advisor, and the RBTV production team recorded all of the musical aspects and the interviews. 

“You’ll hear some veterans talk about their war experiences and talk about what America means to them, talk about highlights from the war and reflections about different things. A lot of things that the veterans had to talk about are important and should be heard,” Prokes said.