Leadership students visit VA hospital

BOURBON — In a group of more than 40 teenagers, it's rare to not see a single cell phone. But that's exactly what happened during Triton High School's recent trip to the Indianapolis VA Medical Center.
"We did not see one cell phone out while we were in the hospital," said Geri Newman, Triton High School nurse and chaperone for the trip.
"Some of our kids never stop talking, and the ones that never stop talking here were at a loss for words there," added Mason McIntire, athletic director.
Students in the Principal's Service Core group and the student athlete leadership group took the trip to volunteer, but found that the veteran's biggest need was just for some company.
"It was just a great experience, breaking the ice of walking into a veteran's room and not knowing what to say or what to do — but just being there is a gift to them," said senior David Stuart. "They were all very happy to see us and most were open to conversation."
The students also passed out Triton t-shirts and letters written by the elementary students. Sophomore Cody Shively said one of his favorite points of the trip was getting to know the tour guide, who humorously had a lot of pride in his particular branch of the military.
"He was a Marine, and all he did was (talk about) the Marines being the best," remembered Shively.
"(The trip) gave me a different perspective on what (veterans) did for our country," said sophomore Taylor Hatfield.
That is exactly what administrators at Triton wanted their students to learn, according to Newman and McIntire.
"It's important for the students to stop and realize the freedoms we have," said McIntire. "We have free education, and veterans helped provide that."
This is the second trip Triton students have made to the VA hospital. The first, last school year, only included the service group. This year, McIntire decided he wanted his athletic leadership group involved. The idea behind both student groups, said Newman, is preparing students for leadership roles in later life and providing them with community service opportunities now.