In The Press

Veterans Day observances held in Ashland schools

By RICK OLIVO Staff Writer, The Daily Press, Ashland Wisconsin
Originally published 11/12/2013
View the article on The Daily Press website.

Vets honored for service, sacrifices for America

Ashland High School and Middle School joined a number of other area schools in holding public observances honoring veterans for their service Monday, the 94th annual Veterans Day held in the United States.

At both locations, the solemnity of the events was punctuated by the entrance of the colors by members of the Chequamegon United Veterans and the Bad River American Legion.

At Ashland High School, the guest speaker was Dr. Henry Gradillas, a substitute teacher and tutor for the district, who also served as an Airborne Ranger Captain. He is most noted for being the principal at Garfield High School in Los Angeles from 1980 to 1987, a period of time when famed teacher Jaime Escalante helped the school gain fame for its Advanced Placement Calculus program. Under Gradillas' leadership Garfield High School made a remarkable turnaround in many respects. Escalante said the changes he helped to make would not have been possible without Gradillas leadership.

That experience was made famous in the movie "Stand and Deliver" starring Edward James Olmos. It is also the topic of a book written by Gradillas, "Standing and Delivering," which outline his no-nonsense view on academic achievement.


Ashland High School Principal Greg Posewitz introduced Gradillas at the Veteran's Day event.

"We know him for the work he has done here for the students of Ashland High School for the past seven years, taking in his experience and enjoying his positive attitude," Posewitz said.

Gradillas said it was a privilege to represent those who served.

"We all know of the tremendous sacrifices that families and servicemen go under," he said. "We all know what the costs are."

He spoke about some of his experiences in the military

"All my life in the military I was trying to teach survival in the battlefield," he said. "Guess what I am doing today; I'm doing the same thing — I am helping you survive in the classroom."

Gradillas said learning to survive in the classroom would also help students survive further education.

"You will also be able to survive economically," he said "The only way you are going to be able to survive is through an education that will teach you something that somebody wants and is willing to pay for it. If you don't have much of anything that somebody wants, it's going to be difficult," he said.

At the Ashland Middle School observance, an essay written by seventh grade student Moriah Jensen was read by eighth grade student Porter Beilfuss, as Jenson was unable to attend the event because of illness. The essay was titled "What patriotism means to me."

"Some people, when they hear that word, patriotism, think of the American flag or George Washington," Jensen wrote. "When I hear the word patriotism, I think of America and the suffering of the soldiers during the Revolutionary War. I think of their courage and bravery, of their loyalty and love for their country and the people in it. I think of their longing for freedom; freedom from Britain, freedom to worship their God the way they wanted to, freedom to be themselves."

Jensen wrote that Americans have suffered many privations to defend their liberties.

"Nowadays, we fail to see the reason why we get to go to school or get a job," she wrote. "The sacrifices those soldiers made back then have paved a path for all Americans to have freedom to worship the way they want, get a job, go to school, to speak as they wish."

She noted that even today, Americans still fight for freedom.

"Whether it's for our own freedom, or another country's, big or small, the undeniable love is still there, she continued. "It amazes me that someone can love a place so much, that they would choose to risk their lives in so many ways, just so that others can have freedom."

"To me, patriotism is all about love and loyalty; for a person's country, the people in it, and the principles it upholds."

Rick Olivo can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.