NEWARK — The tenth anniversary of Kelley School’s tribute to area veterans, servicemen and servicewomen Nov. 8 was, in a few words, simply very meaningful from start to finish.
The event began in the cafeteria with more than 100 veterans and active duty military personnel enjoying breakfast at patriotically-decorated tables with school children related to them.
“We’re happy to see so many coming each year,’’ Principal Teresa Prinzi said with a smile as she helped serve the honored guests breakfasts of pancakes, sausage, fruit cups, juice, coffee or tea.
Several other staff members, including teachers, custodians, office staff, teacher assistants and students also helped serve guests.
After the breakfast, a moving assembly followed at which Prinzi welcomed all the honored guests.
“On behalf of the students, faculty and staff of Kelley School, I would like to welcome our invited guests. It is wonderful to see so many of you in attendance,” Prinzi said. “In the words of the late President Ronald Reagan who said: “We’re gathered today, just as we have gathered before, to remember those who served, those who fought, those still missing and those who gave their last full measure of devotion for our country.”
Then NHS junior Kaitlin Lyman and NHS senior Megan Kreuser beautifully sang “The Star Spangled Banner A capella.
Afterward, Prinzi noted the driving force behind the Veteran’s Day tribute at the school 10 years ago was former Kelley School teacher Judy Carl.
What followed were fifth graders singing “We Will Not Forget,” under the direction of Kelley School music and chorus teacher Christine Santino.
“Veteran’s Day a time to honor all those who have sacrificed for something bigger than themselves,” Prinzi said after the song. “They have sacrificed for the safety and freedom of America. Our students will share what Veteran’s Day means to them.
And then a video, featuring some Kelley School students expressing what Veteran’s Day means to them — and which was produced by Becky Hauf, a teacher assistant in the computer lab — was shown.
Following the video, Prinzi talked about the important role men and women have played in service to our country.
“Throughout our Nation’s history, America’s soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coastguardsmen have bravely answered the call to defend our freedom, to aid our friends and allies, and to turn back aggressors,’’ she said. “We can never fully repay our debt of gratitude to the more than 650,000 American service members who have died in battle or the 1.4 million who were wounded. We can, however, recognize and thank the 25 million veterans still living today. These words are inscribed on the Korean War memorial in Washington DC: “Our nation honors her sons and daughters who answered the call to defend a country they never knew and a people they never met.”
Page 2 of 2 - “Those words apply equally to many of our World War II, Vietnam War and Gulf War veterans as well,” Prinzi continued. “They apply to today’s active duty service members — tomorrow’s veterans who are helping to maintain peace throughout the world,’’ she continued. “Today, it is our privilege to say ‘thank you’ to all of America’s veterans, to let them know that we appreciate them for their service and honor them for their sacrifices. Today, we celebrate America’s veterans for keeping this Nation “the land of the free and the home of the brave.”
Prinzi then asked everyone to stand and observe a moment of silence while “Taps” was played on trumpets by NHS junior Sam Wersinger and NHS sophomore Devin Anglin.
After that, each branch of service was recognized by the playing of its theme song and then Kelley School students presented flags representing each branch of service. Veterans representing each branch of service stood as their flags were presented.
• Seven heartfelt essays about veterans and defenders of freedom were read by third graders Tye Avedisian, Alyssa Bel and Rebecca Spry; fourth grader Jaston Brooks; and fifth graders Faythe Burns, Ryan Hermenet, and Samantha Johnson. Their essays were among others submitted by students that were included in packets given to each guest.
• A donation of nearly $41, raised by Kristin Nardozzi’s class who made and sold yellow ribbons at the school, was presented to veteran Dennis Tellier who represented the Newark VFW. Students who made the presentation were: Ignacio Melendez, Ammorette Laws and Colby George.
New this year, was the unveiling a beautiful wooden bench made by local craftsman Dave Young who worked for many years with his father, Glen, who is now deceased, at their carpentry shop, Glen Young and Son located north of the Village of Newark.
The bench will be located in a garden honoring veterans on the western front side of Kelley School. Kelly School art teacher Amy O’Connor drew a facsimile of the garden that was shown to the audience. Ground will be broken in the spring for the garden.
Young donated his time and labor for the project. The lumber was paid for by monies raised at student bake sales, a penny drive and donations from staff and community members.
The assembly ended with the stirring and tear-inducing rendition of “ We Are Proud of Our Veterans” sung by all the children. Directed by Santino, the singing concluded with the children saluting the honored guests.
Prinzi made some closing remarks and invited all honorees to attend a brief reception in the foyer.
The tribute ceremony was filmed and will be soon up on the NCSD website.