Senior students recently spent time interviewing American combat veterans for their U.S. History and Government class with Mr. Dement.


Each student was given the task of connecting with a U.S. Combat Veteran who had served overseas in a war zone. The veteran could be from any war and had to be willing to be interviewed. Most of the veterans interviewed were local to the East Texas area.

One of our boarding students, Johannes Wolfram of Austria had the chance to interview Rich Godell from East Texas. Rich served in Afghanistan in the years following the 9/11 attacks. Students were instructed to pay attention to the key factors that made each man or woman who they were, to the battles they’d witnessed, and to take note of what they have done in their postwar life, reflecting on how it may have been affected by their wartime service. The goal was to understand their story as a whole, to get a full picture of their experience overseas, and to devote time to remember the stories of the men and women who have given so much for our country.

Students asked questions about everything from “where were you born?” to “did you volunteer or were you drafted?” to “how did you get your life started again after you returned from the war?”. Using their answers, each senior wrote an 8-page biographical sketch about their Veteran. This paper enabled our seniors to connect with the community, to consider their future and to think through the freedoms that they are both currently living in, and the ones that they will step into as they fully enter adulthood.

Our hope as a school, a private Christian school especially, is to create ample opportunity for gratitude. For awareness that our freedoms, faith, and way of educating are protected by those who serve to protect our country. We’re so thankful for the Veterans who gave of their time and energy to share their stories, and we’re proud of the way our seniors dove into this assignment with interest and respect.

Knowledge or information about a place, event or concept can often feel so distant. It’s easy to feel detached from something when we don’t have context. When we take the time to listen to stories, to engage with people and connect the dots, that’s when information comes alive. That’s when it becomes something that fuels change and growth, action and progress.

As a part of this project, all of the veterans interviewed are formally invited to our Veteran’s Day Chapel at Brook Hill as we pause to remember their sacrifice and honor their service. If you’re interested in learning more about our country’s freedom or would like to take the opportunity to refresh on the various wars that America has fought in, we would like to invite you to visit our American Freedom Museum.