PERU — Dozens of veterans from the River Valley area were treated were honored at an assembly Thursday at Dirigo Elementary School after being served a buffet breakfast.

Among the 60 or so veterans were Marlin Thurston, 101, and Cleon Fletcher, 96, who both served in the U.S. Army during World War II.

Veterans, their families, friends, students and staff gathered for an assembly where the guests of honor were given cards and hugs to thank them for their military service. The Dirigo High School band played the national anthem, followed by everyone reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.

Principal Charlie Swan told the prekindergarten through grade five students they were celebrating early because Friday was a school holiday and Veterans Day is Saturday.

Students watched a short video that gave information about the holiday and ended with the question, “What can you do to thank a veteran?” In response, Swan recognized Sue Bartash of Dixfield, who makes quilts for veterans to thank them and keep them warm.

He said 56 students, with support from their families, raised $2,803 for Operation Reboot Outdoors, a veterans’ organization in Turner.

“It’s an organization that started in 2019,” he said. “It’s a pretty new organization, really its goal is to help veterans or law enforcement officers get out of their homes, get out into the woods, hunting, fishing, hiking, doing a variety of different things to help connect them to their communities,” he said.

Before the assembly, culinary arts students and instructors from the Region 9 School of Applied Technology in Mexico served a buffet that included Greek yogurt parfaits, crispy smashed baby Yukon gold potatoes drizzled with sage-infused brown butter, breakfast sausage and cheddar strata, traditional bratts with caramelized onions, smoked chicken and apple sausages and fresh squeezed orange juice seltzers with edible floral ice cubes.

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