Though the seniors of Newton High School won't walk across the commencement stage for a few more months, four members of the senior class received a heroes sendoff Tuesday night in Ravenscroft Gymnasium.
Each future member of the military introduced, then escorted by a cheerleader through a tunnel of cheerleaders — and each received cheers and a standing ovation by their classmates. The student section, normally rowdy during a basketball game, let out whoops of support as each name was read — and again when Justin McBeth, Bruce Maties, Preston Ford and Tucker Sweely received a signed flag from the American Legion riders.
"This means a lot," Maties said. "It shows the community cares about who is joining the armed forces."
Maties will sign enlistment papers next month, then following graduation serve in the National Guard.
McBeth and Ford are headed to the Marine Corps. Sweely is headed to the U.S. Navy.
Their send off at the half of the boys basketball game Tuesday was the conclusion of a night filled with honors for military — past and present. Those who organize, and have taken, honor flights were honored. Members of each branch of the armed forces were honored.
Gaylord Sandeman, American Legion Commander, saluted when presenting McBeth a flag. He also watched the entire night unfold — and said these kind of nights don't happen often enough.
"It lets the general public know who has served," Sandeman said. "It may be the neighbor across the strew that they didn't know served. … It means quite a bit."