Before Tyler High junior Derek Alonso became involved with the JROTC program, he wasn’t performing well in school.

“In middle school, I was a bad student,” Alonso said. “Since I joined the program, I’ve been doing really well, and I became the commander of the team.”

Alonso was among the several Tyler High JROTC students who conducted a flag ceremony in honor of Veterans Day before the start of Wednesday’s school day as other students were just approaching the front entrance.

The ceremony also featured taps and the National Anthem.

“It’s exciting because we get commemorate veterans and what they’ve done for our country,” Alonso said.

Over his three years in JROTC, he’s risen in rank to a second lieutenant cadet. He’s also planning to enlist in the US Army.

Private cadet LaDasia Day, a Tyler High freshman, said presenting the colors was an exciting new experience for her.

She added that the program has been a great benefit to her personally.

“It helps me not to be as shy,” Day said.

Tyler High School Senior Army Junior ROTC instructor Lt. Col. Ray Canas, who is also an Army veteran, said it’s important for students, including cadets and those outside of the program, to learn about the sacrifices of veterans.

“It’s pretty important to be aware of history and the sacrifices of men and women over time,” Canas said. “It’s a good history lesson, not only for cadets, but for the students to make them aware.”

Canas said he thinks the ceremony resonated with students Wednesday morning.

He hopes the students “remember the sacrifices that have been made for them and that one day they’ll be selfless.”

In addition to the flag ceremony, Tyler ISD also hosted veteran celebrations at Clarkston Elementary School, where veterans were invited to a coffee and donut drive-thru, and Bell Elementary School, where there was a drive-up Veterans Day program to honor family members of students who have served the country.


I came to the Tyler Morning Telegraph in September 2019. I report on crime, courts, breaking news and various events in Tyler and East Texas.

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