Ossining High School has won the Community Service Challenge Award from the New York State Public High School Athletic Association for its continuing outreach to veterans.
Each year, the Wrestling team invites veterans to a number of its matches and the Booster Club provides dinner after one match. The tradition was started by Ossining Wrestling Coach and Art Teacher Ron Whitehead, a veteran of the first Iraq War, as a way to give back to the veterans in the community.
Whitehead said the veterans enjoy coming out to the wrestling matches and the students appreciate the support from the community. Organizing a dinner for the veterans after one match just adds to the camaraderie between the two groups.
This year, Whitehead also organized an “Invite a Veteran to School” event at the high school, drawing veterans from every war or conflict from World War II to Iraq and Afghanistan. The veterans met with students in the library during social studies periods and answered questions about history and military action.
At the time, Whitehead said the event was just another way to recognize the contribution of veterans in the community and build connections between veterans and students. For students, he said, the interaction brings history to life.