A Patriotic Tradition Continues – Proud To Be

By Lynne Beauchamp, lbeauchamp@thesuntimesnews.com

In its 29th year of honoring first responders, veterans and those currently serving in the military; the first grade students of Ms. Jenny VanHouten at Anchor Elementary School (formerly Cornerstone Elementary) in Dexter will be presenting their Proud to Be Concert once again.

According to VanHouten, the tradition began during the Gulf War in 1990 when Dexter teachers, Sybil VanHouten (mother of Jenny VanHouten) and teaching partner, Sis Kanten discovered their students were unfamiliar with the words to the Star Spangled Banner. The two teachers decided to teach a few patriotic songs to their students and invited the parents to an informal tea to honor some of Dexter’s many heroes.¬†

After Kanten retired, the mother-daughter VanHouten team presented the concert with first and second graders for several years. When Sybil VanHouten retired, Jenny VanHouten continued the tradition with her students.

Since its inception, the Proud to Be Concert has evolved and includes the Dexter American Legion, Washtenaw County Veterans, firefighters, police officers and paramedics. In some years, the students took a road trip and presented their concert at the VA Hospital, Dexter Gazebo and Gordon Hall.

Currently, the students sing a variety of patriotic songs and military ballads. Alumni of Ms. Jenny VanHouten are invited back to sing Goober Peas, a song that dates back to the Civil War when food was short and boiled peanuts were served to soldiers*.

This year’s Proud to Be concert will take place May 15 at 6:30pm at Anchor Elementary (formerly Cornerstone) cafeteria. The concert is open to the public.

“I would love to see as many veterans, first responders and community members attend as possible” said Jenny VanHouten.

Seth Kinker

Reporter/Digital Media for The Sun Times News

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