LONG BEACH -- Students at Long Beach Middle School honored local veterans Tuesday during a program in the school's gymnasium.
The program, attended by more than 100 veterans, has been organized by the student council for about five years.
"This is truly a student-led event," said Michelle Eleuterius of the Long Beach School District. "It's a great way to honor the men and women who have served our country."
Lt. Cmdr. Preston Roland of the Naval Construction Battalion Center in Gulfport was the featured speaker at the ceremony.
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"I'm very proud to represent the U.S. Navy and our service to the Gulf Coast," Roland said. "We're the home of the Seabees."
He explained his role at the base, which provides services and materials for all the construction forces in the Navy.
"My job is to provide basic entry-level combat instruction for anyone going into the construction forces," he said. "We teach them how to shoot and how to move; these skills are extremely important to their mission."
During the program, members of the student council donated more than $1,500 to the Veterans Community Living Center in Biloxi.
"We had a 'kidnap class' fundraiser to raise money for the veterans," student council president Abby Duvisson said. Students put money in jugs during their fourth block class and classes with the most money had teachers 'kidnapped' while students were given a pizza party.
Abby, an eighth-grader, said a lot of hard work went into the program and she was glad to be a part of it.
"It was worth it" she said. "My grandfather is a veteran. I was glad we could show them how much they mean to us."