Kelley School in Newark recently held its 14th annual salute to area veterans, servicemen and servicewomen.
The event started in the cafeteria with veterans and active-duty military personnel enjoying breakfast with school children related to them at patriotically decorated tables.
An assembly followed with Principal Jeff Hamelinck welcoming the honored guests. Newark High School seniors Megan Cauwels and Madison Chandler sang the national anthem.
Hamelinck said he was grateful that Kelley School students and staff had the “great privilege” of honoring veterans and people serving in the military for their service and the sacrifices they have made not only defending the U.S. but others.
“For keeping the United States of America safe, it is our honor to celebrate you today,” Hamelinck said during the ceremony.
Hamelinck reminded children in the auditorium that when they didn’t come to school the next day, it was a day to honor men and women who have served their nation at home and in other countries.
“I challenge you throughout the day tomorrow to find someone who has served our country, or call them and thank them,’’ he said. “Imagine, if you will, instead of going to college or getting a job in your hometown after high school, you go into the military and leave your family and friends and your state and possibly our nation to serve and protect the citizens of our country and others. This is what our veterans and those serving in the military now have done. Saying ‘thank you’ to them tomorrow is something everyone can do.”
Cmdr. Harry Gajan, of Newark VFW Post 2883, thanked students and staff at Kelley School for honoring area veterans, servicemen and women each year. He presented Hamelinck with a certificate of appreciation.
Cmdr. Fred Baker, of Newark American Legion Post 286, expressed appreciation to Kelley School, and paid tribute to the servicemen and women who could no longer attend the annual event and to those who made “the ultimate sacrifice” of their life in service to this nation.
The new third-grade chorus at Kelley School, directed by vocal music teacher Libby Brozik, made its debut performance singing “Thank You, Soldiers,” followed by a moment of silence to honor those who died in combat and those who are missing in action.
Kelley School band students Devin Littlefield, Anthony Merced and Holden Precourt played taps after the moment of silence. Each branch of service was recognized with its theme song as children held banners displaying military insignias. The branch emblems were also displayed on a screen onstage.
Students sang “We Are Proud of Our Veterans.” Directed by Brozik, it concluded with the children saluting the honored guests.
“It truly has been a pleasure and honor to thank you for the gifts of service you all have given us,’’ Hamelinck said as the assembly came to a close.
Hamelinck noted the work of Kerri Levine, assistant principal; Lisa Spencer, ESL teacher; Karen Burgess and Chrissy Seymour, AIS teachers; Barb Simonse and Tina Lewis, school secretaries; Brozik; and Cindy Briggs, instrumental music teacher, for their help in organizing the event.