PRINCEVILLE, Ill. (WMBD) — Princeville High School students on Friday hosted veterans and the local community for their annual Veterans Day program.

The event was organized and led entirely by students, including junior Briane Rice.

“It’s really rewarding and I’m really thankful to be a part of helping the ceremony to help thank our veterans,” said Rice.

Students performed music for local veterans, then recognized them one-by-one.

“To see the veterans as well as the students, it’s a really cool thing to see because it really shows how tight-knit of a community we are here at Princeville,” said Rice.

Lt. Colonel Melissa Sayers, a Princeville High alum who served as the event’s keynote speaker, said the event gave her a sense of community pride.

“The students doing the speeches, the students escorting folks to their seats. It feels like such a way to bridge that community between students and veterans,” said Sayers.

Sayers, who has spent time in Washington D.C., said this type of event only happens in tight-knit communities like Princeville.

“You just don’t get this. You don’t get the feeling of someone knows you when they walk in. They want you to feel welcome. They want you to feel a part of what they’re doing,” she said.

Sayers has served in the Army for 22 years and deployed twice to Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. She is currently stationed at Rock Island Arsenal in Illinois.