On Friday, Nov. 9, Garrison School students, faculty, staff, parents and community members welcomed local veterans to the school grounds for a special ceremony honoring their service and dedication to our nation.
The ceremony began with a parade of the entire student body walking out from the school carrying flags they had each decorated to honor the veterans. On his way outside, fifth-grader Will Stark explained what honoring the veterans means to him.
“It is important to thank veterans for serving our country,” Will said. “I feel very grateful that they risked their lives for our freedom. They are unselfish and I am so thankful they put their lives on the line for us.”
Principal Stephanie Impellittiere opened the ceremony by welcoming veterans to the school. She expressed her wish that children learn the historical significance of Veterans Day and went on to explain how the day, originally called Armistice Day, was proclaimed by President Woodrow Wilson to honor the men and women who lost their lives during World War I, and was later changed to what we now call Veterans Day.
Students took turns planting their flags in front of the school as bagpipes played and Guidance Counselor Michael Williams thanked and recognized each veteran for their service. Williams also recognized the Garrison School students whose fathers are currently serving overseas and are not able to be with their families. One dad stationed overseas was able to watch and listen to the entire ceremony via Skype.
Fifth-grader Donovan Green read a poem he had written for the occasion:
From me to you
We all thank you
For protecting our country
From North to South
Without a doubt
East to West
And all the rest
From the heart of me
It’s plain to see
From me to you
We all thank you.
The students whose parents are on active duty led the entire school and visitors in the Pledge of Allegiance followed by a moment of silence.
In closing, Impellittiere invited the veterans to join the eighth-grade class in the school library for a special brunch, where eighth-graders had the opportunity to meet with the veterans and learn more about their experiences.
“I cried near the end of the ceremony during the moment of silence when the kids whose fathers are serving now were standing by the flags,” said eighth-grader Sarah Kelly. Classmate Emma Scali agreed. “It is hard enough to be a kid. I give them a lot of credit for what they are going through.”
Impellittiere was pleased with the success of the event. “An experience like this teaches students about empathy and caring for others. This is a critical part of teaching the whole child,” she said.
Friday’s ceremony was planned and coordinated by the Garrison School PTA’s Giving With Thanks Committee of Kimberly Schauffler, Andrea Rouxel, Angela Smith, Kym August, and teacher chair, Michael Williams; with help from the eighth- and sixth-grade classes who prepared white flags for the entire school to decorate. Giving With Thanks, a new PTA initiative this year, was developed to plant the seeds of gratitude and service in children’s lives.
The Garrison School would like to express its own gratitude to all of the veterans for their service, to the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department for providing traffic control for the event, and to the parents, faculty, staff, students and community members who helped make this event possible.