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 From left, Glen Peters School students Ketia Gool, Shawna Ivezaj and Roxanne Kalinowski present boxes of valentines Feb. 10 at a special ceremony. Students made nearly 900 valentines for veterans at a VA medical center in Detroit.

From left, Glen Peters School students Ketia Gool, Shawna Ivezaj and Roxanne Kalinowski present boxes of valentines Feb. 10 at a special ceremony. Students made nearly 900 valentines for veterans at a VA medical center in Detroit.

Photo by Alex Szwarc


Glen Peters students make valentines for veterans

By: Alex Szwarc | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published February 17, 2020

 Branden Karpinen, 18, sings the national anthem at Glen Peters School. Karpinen said that singing the anthem was a big moment in his life.

Branden Karpinen, 18, sings the national anthem at Glen Peters School. Karpinen said that singing the anthem was a big moment in his life.

Photo by Alex Szwarc

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MACOMB TOWNSHIP — Local students recently ramped up their efforts to send Valentine’s Day cards to veterans.

In the past, around 300 valentines were made by students at Glen Peters School in Macomb Township. This year, the number of cards increased to nearly 900.

On Feb. 10, students, staff and veterans gathered at the school for the sixth annual Valentines for Veterans program.

Mike Miski, commander of the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 154 Honor Guard, said the students love making the valentines and the honor guard loves collecting them for distribution.

Valentines were delivered to the John D. Dingell VA Medical Center in Detroit.

Seven members of the honor guard were on hand for the ceremony, which began with a march throughout the school.

“It’s an honor for us to be here,” Miski, an Air Force veteran, said. “People don’t understand what this school is all about. When you come here, it’s an eye-opener for everybody.”

Glen Peters student Branden Karpinen, 18, sang the national anthem and said he feels good about the veterans who came to the school and visited students.

“I really appreciate these guys coming out and protecting our country,” he said.

Prior to singing, Karpinen said he was excited to honor America.

“I’ve been ready for a long time,” he said. “I’m all about America.”

Karpinen said that singing the anthem was a big moment in his life, given that this is his last school year at Glen Peters.

“Hopefully one day I can join the Army. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a couple of years,” he said. “I have to work hard. It’s a really big honor in my life to do this.”

Karpinen’s mother, Michelle, said it’s great for people like her son who attend a special needs school to feel that a disability will not stop them from life.

“It’s important for the students to see that veterans have disabilities and to stay strong and to honor our country,” she said.

Karpinen’s uncle Gary served in the Vietnam War, and his grandpa Rodney fought in the Korean War.

“Special needs children are not forgotten and are heroes themselves,” Michelle said.

Glen Peters School Principal Jennifer Shelton said the school has formed a relationship with this group of veterans.

“It’s great to see them come back every year and for our students and staff to be able to give back to the community,” she said. “The students have all enjoyed making the valentines and we enjoy having the veterans here.”

Shelton added that from an educational standpoint, all the classrooms at Glen Peters at varying levels talk with the students about who veterans are and what service they have and what they do for the country.

“We try to tie in if the students have any veterans in their families and teach them about how grateful we are for them,” Shelton said.

Glen Peters School is one of two programs in the Macomb Intermediate School District serving students with moderate cognitive impairments, severe cognitive impairments and severe multiple impairments, from 3 through 26 years of age.

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