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Principal Kendra Bonam smiled as she walked into the Bottenfield Elementary School teachers’ lounge Thursday to a room full of staff members and a cake that said “Thank you for your service.”

The cake honored her on Veterans Day for her 22 years of military service, including six in the Army and 16 in the National Guard.

“I’m not (normally) emotional, but I’m about to cry,” she said.

Bonam said she joined the Army after realizing it would be difficult to pay for college, where she originally hoped to study to become a police officer.

“The plan was to go, get money for college and leave,” she said. “I got there, and I enjoyed every bit of it, so I decided to make a career out of it and join the National Guard.”

In the National Guard, Bonam was deployed to Germany and South Korea, where she worked as a personnel specialist. Her husband, whom she met during her service, retired from military duty last week. Bonam, who is in her first year as Bottenfield’s principal, retired from service in 2019.

As she pulled into school Thursday morning, she was surprised by signs in front of the school that said “Happy Veterans Day Mrs. Bonam,” and she walked into an office that staff had decorated.

“When I turned in, I almost wrecked my car trying to read the sign they had out front,” she said. “I was not expecting anything. That’s one thing about most veterans, it’s a selfless act they do, joining the military. You don’t expect anything from anybody. So to come to work and have this, it was great.”

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