Hastings High School salutes veterans

Veterans, band and choir students on center stage

By John McLoone
Posted 11/16/23

An inspirational Veterans Day program was held at Hastings High School on Friday.

While the Salute to Veterans event was to celebrate the service of those who served in Armed Forces, the …

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Hastings High School salutes veterans

Veterans, band and choir students on center stage


An inspirational Veterans Day program was held at Hastings High School on Friday.

While the Salute to Veterans event was to celebrate the service of those who served in Armed Forces, the arrangements by the Hastings High School choir and band students couldn’t help but take center stage in the gym full of local veterans, family, students and residents.

The high school choir and orchestra combined for a rousing rendition of “Battle Hymn of the Republic” that brought the audience to its feet with a standing ovation to close the program.

Organizers and students were crowded by those offering compliments at the close of the program. Veterans remarked at how attentive and respectful the students were at the program.

It was the first time the Veterans Day ceremony was held at the high school since 2018.

“It was an absolutely incredible event, a tried and true banner day for HHS, a clear and present example of everything that is well and good about our schools and our kids,” said choir director Luke Warren.

Veterans of the branches of military service were invited to stand and be recognized while the students performed the theme song of their branch.

Several school board directors attended, as did Hastings Mayor Mary Fasbender and Dakota County Commissioner Mike Slavik. Speaker at the event was Master Sgt. Stephanie Malm, who also serves as a school board director.

Under the direction of Kelly Lewis, the Hastings High School Orchestra started the program with “America the Beautiful” followed by Jim Jacobsen directing the HHS Wind Ensemble in “An American Fanfare” that definitely brought the crowd to attention.

The Hastings VFW Post 1210 presented the colors at the program, and the choir sang the National Anthem.

Superintendent Dr. Tamara Champa talked about the importance of each branch of service.

Superintendent Dr. Tamara Champa introduced invited Malm to the podium. Malm has served since college when she joined the Minnesota Army National Guard in 2005. She enlisted as a private, preparing for overseas duty where she coded and maintained military communication systems to allow secure and reliable communication for troops in Iraq. She retained to Hastings from deployment in 2010. She currently serves as chief paralegal for the Office of Staff Judge Advocate at Minnesota National Guard Joint Forces Headquarters. She is the senior-most ranking paralegal. Malm’s husband J.T. is also a veteran and the two are parents to two Hastings schools students.

Malm spoke of the importance of honoring veterans.

“It is a privilege to be here with you today to pay tribute to my incredible brothers and sisters in arms, our nation’s veterans who have worn the uniform of our Armed Forces,” she said. “Veterans Day is not just another day on the calendar. It is a powerful remind of the sacrifices made by those who have served our country. It is the day to pause, remember and honor our veterans’ unwavering dedication and courage. It is a day to recognize that the freedoms we hold dear have been protected by the selflessness of those who stood and said, ‘I will serve.’”

Malm said there is something all veterans have in common.

“We have felt the weight of responsibility on our shoulders and stood firm in the face of adversity,” she said. “We have known the camaraderie that comes from sharing challenges and triumphs with our brothers and sisters in arms. We have learned the true meaning of sacrifice, often leaving behind the comfort of home to face the unknown in faraway lands.”

She spoke of the need of ensuring veterans continue to be taken care of.

“Being a veteran is not just about the past. It’s about the present and the future as well. Our duty does not end when we hang up our uniform. It continues as we work to ensure our fellow veterans receive the support they need. It continues as we strive to create a world where the sacrifices our veterans made are never forgotten and their contributions are always values,” said Malm. “In a world that sometimes feels divided, our veterans set an example that is a powerful reminder of what unites us. We are Americans bound by the shared history, our shared values and our shared aspirations. Our commitment to service reminds us when we work together, we can overcome any obstacle and achieve greatness.”

The HHS Wind Ensemble performed National Emblem March arrangement.

HHS Principal Scott Dorn talked about the prominence of military.

“Minnesota the state has a proud military history,” he said, signaling out his father and father-in-law in attendance, both of whom are Army veterans. “Today in Minnesota there are over 1,500 active service duty members and there are also 21,000 National Guard and Reserve members of the military. We have a proud tradition of service to our country and honor all veterans today for their service. Hastings High school also provides information to students regarding opportunities to serve through our partnership with each branch of the military, supported by our fantastic counseling staff and college and career center.”

“I would also like to thank our music department and our very talented students for their performance today,” said Dorn. “As we approach the end of today’s ceremony, I would also like to thank our music dept and very talented student for their performance and to Ms. Kelly Lewis, Mr. Jim Jacobsen, Mr. Luke Warren and all of the fantastic music staff, a heartfelt thank you for all you do today and every day for our students.”

Dorn had one last person to recognize for the success of the program.

“One last thank you personally from me to Superintendent Dr. Champa. Thank you for your support and genuine excitement to bring back this wonderful event,” he said. The audience applauded in agreement.