The Pickerington High School Central Marching Band next week will pay thanks to area veterans, military personnel and senior citizens during its annual Tribute to Patriots concert.
Central's band director, band members and band parents May 23 will host an evening of food and music for past and present military personnel, as well as senior citizens.
Beginning at 5:30 p.m., a free, homemade chicken and noodle dinner will be provided to local senior citizens and military veterans and current military servicemen and women in Central's cafeteria, 300 Opportunity Way.
The dinner will be prepared by band parents and students, who also will decorate the cafeteria for the event.
Following dessert, attendees will be ushered into Central's Performing Arts Center at 7:30 p.m. for the 2013 Tribute to Patriots Concert, which is performed by Central's band. The annual show has been a local tradition since 1995.
"We began the concerts as a way to say thank you to our local veterans and military servicemen and woman," said Mike Sewell, Central band director.
"It is a great way to expose the students to various types of music and time periods in our country."
This year, the band will be accompanied by Jim Getty, a resident of Gettysburg, Pa., and an Abraham Lincoln re-enactor whose one-man show there has earned him a Pennsylvania Travel Excellence Award.
"Sometimes we have students research and read during the concert, sometimes we have guest speakers and/or historical figure portrayers join us for the event," Sewell said.
"We have had (re-enactors of) Robert E Lee, Gen. Grant and Abraham Lincoln assist us in previous concerts.
"Mr. Getty is joining us for the second time and will be a featured speaker on four musical selections, and will also address the audience in character about Ohio's involvement and contributions to the Civil War," Sewell said.
Sewell said the Tribute to Patriots Concert is a cornerstone to his music education teachings in which he seeks to inform students about U.S. military events and other significant moments in American history.
He's infused the lessons into his curriculum after a near lifelong interest in history propelled by a boyhood meeting with Columbus resident Brig. Gen. Paul Tibbets Jr., who as a colonel in World War II piloted the first aircraft to drop an atomic bomb in the history of warfare.
Additionally, he said, it's an opportunity to thank local senior citizens and active and past military personnel who've given to their country and communities.
"It gives us a chance to give back to those who sacrificed so much so that we can live our lives," Sewell said.
"It is very important to PHS Central Band members that they recognize our veterans and senior citizens."
After the concert, Sewell will take the PHS Central Jazz Band and 18 Chorale members to Washington, D.C., in what has become another annual tradition.
There, the students will perform at three military retirement centers, as well as the U.S. Navy Memorial and Christ Church -- formerly attended by President George Washington and Gen. Lee -- in Alexandria, Va.
"They will attend the Memorial Day Ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery and visit Washington national monuments," Sewell said.
Students pay the entire cost of the trip to Washington, D.C., and no Pickerington Local School District funds are used for the trip.