Students in Arvada host breakfast for veterans

ARVADA, Colo. -- Students at Excel Academy in Arvada gave Veterans the kind of warm welcome they deserve.

The school  invited friends and family members who are vets to breakfast Friday morning. It’s part of a new tradition at the school where vets get to share their stories and students get to show how much they care.

Principal Lisa Gjellum started the veterans day breakfast because she remembered how much her father loved it back in their home state of Illinois. Now she does it at her school  in memory of his service to our country.

“In a small town in Illinois he went to the elementary school and had a veterans breakfast.  He talked about it for years. He would go every year,” added Gjellum. She hopes the annual gathering touches other vets the way it touched her dad.

When we spoke with William Chiappetta, a navy vet who served on a destroyer, the show of appreciation seemed to be working. We asked him about the American flags students made as gifts.

“I’m bringing this home to Wisconsin and every night that I go to bed and it will remind of my family,” Chiappetta explained.

This is William Samstag’s second time attending  the school’s veterans celebration.

“But it means a lot to me down inside because I put my time in. I served. I’m proud to belong to a group that went out of their way for the country,” explained Samstag.

Students spent the morning hearing from the heroes they read about in the history books and in turn learned a valuable lifelong lesson.

“How to respect veterans. Honor their service,” explained Gjellum.

More than 150 veterans attended the breakfast. The food was donated by Backpacks of Mercy, a local nonprofit that donates cold weather supplies to homeless vets every winter.