For Immediate Release

April 7, 2015

Contact: Tammy Sharp

Media Relations



Leesville Mayor Rick Allen Recognizes Vernon Middle School Choir for Participation in Fort Polk Listening Session

LEESVILLE, La--Fifth and sixth grade students with the Vernon Middle School Choir were recognized by Leesville Mayor Rick Allen and Fort Polk Progress Chairman Michael Reese Tuesday for their performance during last month's Community Listening Session. According to Mayor Allen and Reese, the group's participation helped to show Army decisions regarding force structure could affect real communities.


The choir helped commence the March 3 event with its rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner." Allen presented each student with a signed certificate of recognition and said the choir's participation was important for Leesville, Vernon Parish, Fort Polk and its surrounding communities.


"I don't think that everybody really understood how big of an impact you made," Allen told the students. "So I wanted you all to know that (the city and Fort Polk Progress) appreciated your effort and you all did a fabulous job. It sounded perfect. And I wanted to come and personally thank each and every one of you."


The Community Listening Session saw hundreds of people turn out to line the streets between Fort Polk and the event venue to help welcome Department of the Army officials. The visiting officials were tasked with listening to the community's case against making force structure reductions at the installation. The installation is posed to lose as many as 6,500 troops and civilian workers due to sequestration-lead budget measures.


Reese explained to students that Fort Polk is the "anchor of the economy" for the region and how the choir's participation during the Listening Session helped to show how uniformly the community supports the U.S. Army installation.


"So the work you did the other day helped us display to those decision-makers how important our soldiers are at Fort Polk; how much the community embraces and supports the military and appreciates the mission and service they give to our country and how important that is to the jobs that our parents all have and the economy that supports the school that you're in today," Reese said.

Reese said that the choir's presence during the event also demonstrated how Army decisions regarding force structure can cut deeply into communities and how those decisions can even have an impact on a child's education.


Long-time Vernon Parish educator Gene Davis leads the choir and has served as both choir director and band director during his tenure. He has taught at Vernon Middle School and Hornbeck High School for 53 years. He said the group has received an "excellent" for its in concert performances and a "superior" -- the highest possible rating -- for sight reading.


To view or use photos of students receiving their certificates, visit the City of Leesville on Facebook.


The City of Leesville, the best hometown in the world, is a historic yet visionary community. As the parish seat of Vernon Parish, where Fort Polk and the Joint Readiness Training Center are located, the City of Leesville is home to military families, retired veterans and a growing and strongly patriotic citizenry that provides the basis of a well-rounded and work-ready workforce.   


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