Endeavour Elementary students learn core values of service

By Brandon Gustafson | Nov 15, 2017
Photo by: Brandon Gustafson Retired Air Force veteran Wendi Dunavan talks about the importance of teamwork in the military. Dunavan, who has two children at Endeavour, spoke at Endeavour’s annual Veterans Day assembly Thursday, Nov. 9.

Having a child listen attentively to what you’re trying to say isn’t the easiest task. When there are a few hundred children, the degree of difficulty goes up a bit.

Keeping the students of Endeavour Elementary engaged wasn’t an issue for Wendi Dunavan, a retired cryptologic linguist for the Air Force who has two children at Endeavour.

Dunavan gave a talk during Endeavour’s annual Veterans Day assembly, regarding the impact being in the military had on her life, and what Veterans Day is all about and why they had the day off from school.

Aside from Dunavan, there were 33 other parents with military backgrounds, including the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard at the assembly.

The assembly was also complete with three singing performances by the school’s fifth graders, such as “Appreciated” and “You’re a Grand Old Flag.” Music teacher Linda Wooding led the performance.

“I joined the Air Force because I was poor,” Dunavan said. “I thought of having three meals a day. I didn’t think I had a future, and I didn’t have any money to go to college. I wanted to get out of my hometown.”

Dunavan was very interactive with the students during her talk, asking a lot of questions to keep them engaged and focused.

“Who’s a veteran?” Dunavan asked. “What’s a veteran? What do they look like?”

Students gave answers such as someone who’s in the army or someone who wears green, which Dunavan said was correct, but that ultimately, anyone could be a veteran.

Dunavan’s message was about the three core values that she learned from serving in the Air Force: integrity, service before self, and excellence in all you do.

“With integrity, that’s about doing what’s right all the time,” Dunavan said. “It’s doing what’s right even if no one is there watching you.

“Service before self, that’s my main takeaway,” she said. “Our mission and duties were more important than our personal desires. This took responsibility over everything else. Our mission was the most important thing, and we had to make it work, even if it was something we didn’t like or if we were working with people we may not have liked.”

Dunavan quoted former President John F. Kennedy’s famous line, “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country,” in order to emulate what “service before self” meant to her and what it really means to be in the armed forces.

Dunavan also said that students should try to emulate “excellence in all we do.” She feels that we should all try our best to improve, and that if we’re always trying to get better at something, then you will eventually grow and improve.

“You don’t need to be in the military to use those three core values,” Dunavan said. “Use those three values and lead by example. People around you will see that and want to do that as well.”

Those values will help lead to growth in the community as a whole, and that through things like volunteering, donating to food banks, voting and fundraising, you can help make your community a better place.

The well-engaged students had a lot to think about, given the array of information Dunavan shared, but her closing statement was simple.

“Today and Saturday, think about veterans,” Dunavan said. “If you have a chance to thank one, then thank one.”



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