To celebrate the military presence in our community, Wilson Hall sponsored a Military Appreciation Night for the varsity football game on September 7. The school has enjoyed a decades-long relationship with Shaw Air Force Base, home to the U.S. Air Forces Central Command, 20th Fighter Wing and Ninth Air Force, as well as the Third Army/U.S. Army Central Command. Students from military families comprise 19% of the student body, including 36% of the new students enrolling this year.
Twenty American flags, a Prisoner of War flag, and four South Carolina flags, loaned to the school by the family of the late Mayor Bubba McElveen and the Sumter County Museum, were flown throughout Spencer Field. The varsity cheerleaders painted a red, white and blue run-through banner for the team that read “Here Come Our Heroes” and distributed red, white and blue balloons to the student fans, and for the night’s spirit theme students dressed in patriotic garb.
Captain Nicholas Lopresto, who serves as chaplain at Shaw AFB, offered the invocation before the game. Chief John F. Kennedy, who retired from the Air Force after 24 years of service, sang “The Star Spangled Banner” and sophomore Bella Land sang “God Bless America.” Conducting the coin toss was Colonel Dustin Smith, retired Air Force as Central Command Chief of Staff at Shaw AFB. Mrs. Elizabeth Hyatt, school counselor, coordinated the event.