Soaring Valor: Episode One

Soaring Valor: Episode One

On November 11, schools across the country celebrate Veterans Day by honoring and recognizing current and former service members who have risked their lives to protect our freedoms. In March 2017, 40 Grapevine-Colleyville ISD eleventh-grade students will have a very special opportunity to once again honor veterans, this time, World War II veterans.


American Airlines, the Gary Sinise Foundation, The National World War II Museum and GCISD have partnered to send 40 eleventh-grade students to New Orleans, March 1st - 3rd, 2017 for a once in a lifetime experience, at no cost for students or for their families.


Soaring Valor, a Gary Sinise Foundation program, teamed up with American Airlines to bring World War II veterans and their guardians to The National WWII Museum to document and share the oral histories of the Greatest Generation. To date, more than 150 veterans have visited the museum as part of this initiative.


This year, GCISD was asked to accompany these veterans to New Orleans as the inaugural group of students selected for the Soaring Valor experience. As the district was limited in the number of students who are able to participate in the program, administrators had to make a determination of how to select students.


“This is an incredible opportunity for our district and the students selected,” said GCISD Director of Humanities Dr. Suzanne Newell. “Ultimately we selected eleventh-grade students because their curriculum centers around United States history and World War II is an important part of that history.”


In order to choose the students who will travel to New Orleans, the humanities department, along with campus staff, developed the American Freedom Project. This essay asked students to examine America's commitment to freedoms at home and abroad, and then detail the extent to which they agree or disagree. Additionally, students that wished to be considered for inclusion in Soaring Valor had to write a letter to a veteran.


Teachers from Grapevine High School, Colleyville Heritage High School and Collegiate Academy evaluated each essay and letter against certain criteria to determine the students that would be selected for Soaring Valor. Grapevine High School and Colleyville Heritage High School each selected 18 participants, while Collegiate Academy was able to select 4 students.


“We understood that this opportunity is one that would appeal to many students and their families, so we were diligent and intentional in selecting students from all courses - on-level, Pre-AP and AP,” said Dr. Newell. “This trip could spark a deeper appreciation and love of history for these students, and we wanted to make sure that opportunity was available for all eleventh-graders.”


To watch interviews with those students that were selected, click here.


Over the course of the next several months, there will be several initiatives that are part of the Soaring Valor experience. Please be sure to follow the #GCISDsoars for the latest updates from across the district. Additionally, all information about Soaring Valor and the partnership with GCISD may be found on this website.


About the Gary Sinise Foundation: The Gary Sinise Foundation honors America’s defenders, veterans, first responders, their families and those in need. Through its R.I.S.E. (Restoring Independence Supporting Empowerment) program, specially adapted smart homes are being constructed for severely wounded veterans nationwide. Each one-of-a-kind home is customized to ease the everyday burdens of a wounded hero, their family, and caregivers. Other programs include Relief & Resiliency Outreach, Invincible Spirit Festivals, Gary Sinise & the Lt. Dan Band, Arts & Entertainment Outreach, Serving Heroes, and First Responders Outreach. Its latest program, Soaring Valor, is sending WWII veterans to The National WWII Museum and sponsoring an historian to document their first-hand accounts of the war. For more information, please visit


About the National WWII Museum tells the story of the American experience in the war that changed the world – why it was fought, how it was won, and what it means today – so that future generations will know the price of freedom and be inspired by what they learn. Dedicated in 2000 as The National D-Day Museum and now designated by Congress as America’s National WWII Museum, it celebrates the American Spirit, the teamwork, optimism, courage and sacrifices of the men and women who fought on the battlefront and served on the Home Front. For more information, call 877-813-3329 or 504-528-1944 or visit