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Burnet High School students and The Picayune Magazine have been connecting with veterans to bring their stories to the community. The November issue of The Picayune Magazine, which will arrive in mailboxes and on countertops in the Highland Lakes from October 29-November 1, features several stories about veterans, including profiles of individual veterans, veteran programs, and VFW and American Legion posts. Readers will also find out where to get their Buddy Poppies in time for Veterans Day on November 11.

Meanwhile, Burnet students participating in the VFW Auxiliary’s Young Creative Patriotic Art Contest sat down with veterans of foreign wars over lunch at the high school October 24 to seek creative inspiration. Although the deadline to enter their work in the scholarship contest isn’t until March 31, 2020, they asked — and received — permission to talk to veterans now so they could get to work.

Kat Carter, president of the VFW Post 6974 auxiliary in Burnet, organized the luncheon with visual arts teacher Kim Timmons. Culinary arts students cooked and served the lunch while art students met with a half-dozen veterans from the local post.

At first, students seemed unsure what to do, where to sit, and, most of all, what to ask.

“It happened the same way last year,” Carter said. “I think the students are a little shy, but soon they’ll all be talking and really getting to know each other.”

Carter was correct in how quickly the students and veterans warmed up to each other. The lunch included veterans, both men and women, from World War II through the recent Afghanistan and Iraq wars.

Burnet High School veterans lunch
Navy veteran Carter Reece (left) and Burnet High School student Taylor Mullins visit during lunch at the school October 24. Along with a meal prepared by the Burnet High School culinary arts students, the luncheon was a chance for visual art students to interview several Highland Lakes veterans and gather inspiration for an upcoming art contest. Staff photo by Daniel Clifton

At one table, Darrel Burris, an Air Force retiree, had several students laughing as he told them stories of his career. In another corner, VFW Post 6974 Commander Reece Carter showed student Taylor Mullins his cruise book (like a yearbook) from his time on the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier. The scene replayed itself at each table over plates of chicken broccoli casserole.

“Some of these students may not know any veterans, and this is a chance to get to know them,” Kat Carter said. “The students need to know the history and the reason we have veterans.”

Art teacher Kim Timmons agreed that it’s important for students to learn from the veterans, as it also helps the youths develop an understanding and admiration for the country and those who serve.

“Students today have no idea what the word ‘patriotism’ means. So the hope of this was to connect students with veterans for them to explain what patriotism means to them,” Timmons said. “Classroom discussions about patriotism’s meaning have gotten so much deeper, and (students) are so much more encouraged after connecting with one or two of the veterans. … They usually keep up the relationships with their veterans the rest of their lives.”

To learn more about local VFW and American Legion posts, pick up a copy of the November issue of The Picayune Magazine. You can also read about Vonnie Riddell Fox and her life in the Burnet County Jail. Now 93, the only remaining child of Sheriff Wallace Riddell recalls when her father was first elected in 1939 and moved the family from a family farm in south Burnet County to the jailhouse on the Burnet courthouse square.

Other stories include how to make venison jerky and recipes for holiday leftovers developed by a 14-year-old chef. If you get The Picayune Magazine in the mail, you’ll also get a free copy of the Highland Lakes Christmas Lights Guide. If not, you can find one on a countertop near you along with copies of The Picayune Magazine.