Pete Pitard receives Citizen Educator Award from VFW

Around here we know Pete Pitard as the Duke of Jazz, host of Lights Out Jazz on Wednesday nights.   During the school year in Covington teacher of History and Government. In May he was recognized as Citizen Educator of the Year by the Covington Veterans of Foreign Wars. This wasn’t an award I was familiar with so I asked him what he knew about it.

“When I got to talking to Paul Linkonhoker, whose the, kind of the liason for VFW. It came to me that it was really a special award in a lot of ways. Number one, I’m a veteran, and number two, I’ve worked really hard in my History classes in school to try to get students to look at citizenship, and see what citizenship really means in a day to day basis and to try to model that for them. You know they’ve got to sign up for the selective service; they’ve got to vote; every time we vote, I make sure I’m wearing my voting button. And they’ll ask me ‘Did you vote?’ and of course they’ll ask me who I voted for. So we talk a lot, and it’s important for kids to understand, especially teenagers who some times can be very opinionated, that it’s their responsibility to listen to try to discern form fake news to real news, and what is really the issues, and to think carefully about making a decision about who they would vote for, in an election, so it really honors that role of a teacher in a classroom to talk to students about citizenship.”

Mr. Pitard described how to recognize a student who seems to understand what it takes to be a good citizen.

“A lot of it has to do with students who volunteer, to go out of their way to help people in the community, students who ring the bell at Christmas time. That’s one of the indicators.   They get involved in their community. A couple of my students have actually worked on committees or helped in reelection campaigns, so that’s really interesting. Students in their senior year, they take government, they do a lot of projects where they get out and go to the City Council meetings, and you know the Supervisor Board meetings, and School board meetings you know, to see what’s going on.”

And how does it feel to know others have been paying attention to your hard work?

“Well it surprised me and it honored me. I felt very honored to be selected. I never have gone out of my way to pursue, you know, I’m not writing the essay or anything else. I’ve helped kids write essays, and come up with ideas; it really honored me, and it honors me as a veteran to be selected by these peers, to be appointed as a Citizenship educator. That says a lot about my profession as a teacher too, and that makes me proud; and that honors me that ‘Okay, I’m doing some good here. I’m helping.”

One exercise in Citizenship, I had the pleasure of being there, for was when Pete brought a group of jazz musicians to Hot Springs from Covington to play in a radio station fundraiser. While we always appreciate the live performances during fundraisers, as an AMR board member Pete also understands how community radio relies on a wide range of music for its listeners.

“I wish we had more kids who would step up to the plate on Saturday and play their favorite music because we don’t really get a lot of young people’s music. We do get a lot of Rock and Roll and other kinds of music, and I know Highland and Pocahontas have their Radio Club, and I’m starting to hear some of that music in the afternoons, but it would nice if we had kids who stepped up and wanted to play some of their kinds of music.”

So, for all you future radio hosts, use what Citizen Educator know, and share your taste and talents here first at Allegheny Mountain Radio.


Story By

Bonnie Ralston

Bonnie Ralston is the Assistant Station Coordinator at WVLS and a Highland County news reporter. She began volunteering at Allegheny Mountain Radio in the fall of 2005. In 2006 she became an AMR employee and worked in Bath County for eight years as the WCHG Station Coordinator and then as the news reporter there. She began working in radio while in college and has stayed connected to radio, in one way or another, for more than thirty years. She grew up in Staunton, Virginia, while spending a lot of time on her family’s farm in Deerfield, Virginia. She enjoys spending time outside, watching old TV shows and movies and tending to her chickens.

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