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New Tech Students Celebrate Sixth Annual Purple Heart Leadership Day

New Tech

Students at Belton New Tech High School @ Waskow spent Thursday honoring their campus’ namesake by serving the community.

About 490 students completed projects like cleaning up local parks, singing Christmas carols for residents of area nursing homes and reading books in Spanish for elementary students as part of the sixth annual Purple Heart Servant Leadership Day.

Principal Jennisty Thomason said the day honors Belton native Capt. Henry T. Waskow’s dedication to service and provides students an opportunity to further develop empathy.

“Our teachers can talk about empathy all day long, but it’s participating in days like today when our students get to experience how their kindness and goodwill can directly impact the community,” Thomason said. “We hope Capt. Waskow would be proud of the way our students strive to honor his memory and continue his legacy.”

This year, because of COVID-19 safety precautions, some projects took on a new twist. Instead of singing to residents in person, for example, students recorded their caroling to be shared later.

“Our teachers and students had to get creative,” Thomason said. “But they were able to see that even during a pandemic, there are still needs and you can find ways to make a difference.”

At-Home learners were even able to join in remotely, Thomason said, working on projects like making thank you cards and posters for local frontline workers.

In 2015, New Tech was named the country’s first-ever Purple Heart School, an honor bestowed on the school because of Waskow’s connection.

Waskow died on Dec. 14, 1943, while serving in World War II. Waskow’s legacy was largely defined by his commitment to helping others and dedicating his life to having a positive impact on those he led, his community and his country. 

As part of their graduation requirements, New Tech students are required to complete at least 10 hours of community service.

“This is one of my favorite days of the year,” Thomason said. “What could be better than working alongside our students as they make an impact in our community?” 

See more pictures from Purple Heart Servant Leadership Day at