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Newtown Schools Honor Veterans

Published: November 11, 2017

Eliza Hallabeck & Alissa Silber

Newtown schools honored veterans in a number of ways on Friday, November 10, ahead of Veterans Day on November 11.

At Head O’ Meadow Elementary School, a light sprinkling of snowflakes began to fall as students, faculty, and veterans exited the school for the flag-raising ceremony at 9 am. Navy Lieutenant Commander Shannon Perrin had the honor of raising the American flag, with assistance from her son Thomas Perrin and the school’s Head Custodian Wayne Sherwood.

The ceremony included the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by the school’s morning announcements, which were presented in-part by Ms Perrin’s daughter Samantha Perrin.

Students were then asked to escort their veteran guests inside to the school’s cafeteria for a breakfast to honor the vets and let the students show their appreciation.

Across town, veterans were also being treated to a special Veterans Day breakfast in the library at Hawley Elementary School.

Hawley students and their guests from the United States Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, and Navy later joined the rest of the school in the gymnasium for a Veterans Day assembly. The students showed their patriotism, donned in red, white, and blue attire, and some spoke about what Veterans Day means to them and all thanked the veterans for their selfless service.

Students who had veterans attend the event had the opportunity to present a red carnation to their guest to show their gratitude and respect.

Songs like “You’re a Grand Old Flag” and “This Land is Your Land” were sung, and the assembly concluded with the veterans showing the students the proper way to salute the American flag.

Sandy Hook Elementary School held a flag-raising ceremony at 8 am before students escorted visiting veterans into the school’s cafeteria for breakfast, presented by the school’s PTA. When the school day began later in the morning, students brought their visitors to their classrooms to attend homeroom. The entire school then gathered in the school’s cafeteria for an assembly. Marine Sergeant Dustin Gill, a Sandy Hook School and Newtown High School graduate, was a guest speaker. PTA member Tracy Hoekenga organized the event, with support from other PTA members, including Co-Presidents Heather Franse and Karyn Holden, according to the school.

Third graders sang patriotic songs including “America” and a special song titled “Thank a Vet” for the Veterans Day assembly at Sandy Hook School under the guidance of school music teacher Maryrose Kristopik. According to Ms Holden, 58 veterans and their family members attended the event at Sandy Hook School, with 200 total people attending the breakfast.

Middle Gate Elementary School also offered a morning breakfast for veterans and it held two assemblies during the school day.

Retired Marine Kevin Massett, who’s wife Melissa Massett is a teacher at Middle Gate, spoke at the second assembly of the day. He shared stores from his roughly 20-year career and thanked the school community for hosting the Veterans Day events.

Middle Gate fourth grade teacher Linda Baron organized the events for her school, and she led the assembly, which included students singing patriotic songs. Students with visiting veterans also had the chance to introduce their special guests individually before the assembly.

Near the end of Middle Gate’s assembly students sang a song Ms Baron said was written just for the veterans.

“You are patriots and heroes who answered the call,” the students sang.

Reed Intermediate School Assistant Principal Jill Bontatibus-Beaudry estimated roughly 30 veterans attended the school’s assembly, which honored all veterans in attendance and specifically celebrated four family members of students that are currently on active duty. During the assembly students sang military-themed songs and read poetry about the military.

After Reed’s assembly, Ms Bontatibus-Beaudry said veterans and their family members were treated to breakfast in the school’s lounge, which was decorated in a red, white, and blue theme. The school’s PTA oversaw the breakfast and decorations, and the school’s Veterans Day Committee organized the assembly and other activities. A White Table was also set up in the school’s lobby to honor all of those who have served in the armed forces.

A display in the lobby at Newtown Middle School was set up for the morning to showcase portrait drawings students created from solicited pictures submitted of veterans. The seventh grade art enrichment students were assigned portraits to draw from the submissions. The project was overseen by art teachers Leigh Anne Coles and Kristen Ladue.

NMS also hosted two breakfasts and assemblies during the school day to honor veterans. Teachers Andrew San Angelo, Shari Oliver, and Barry Palmer oversaw the day’s events.

After students read a poem and an essay to honor the veterans present at the first assembly of the day, NMS Assistant Principal James Ross said everyone is indebted to the veterans.

“We hope that in a small way we, as a school, were able to convey this message,” said Mr Ross. He later thanked the veterans for making a difference and for “making us safe.”

Friday also began with a breakfast for veterans at NHS along with a ceremony in the school’s cafetorium. Student groups — including the NHS Chamber Choir, the NHS Singers, and the NHS Wind Ensemble — performed for the event. Speakers at the ceremony included First Selectman Pat Llodra, Interim Superintendent of Schools Lorrie Rodrigue, Assistant Superintendent of Schools Jean Evans Davila, and Interim NHS Principal David Roach.

A history of Veterans Day was read by NHS students, along with the Gettysburg Address. A White Table was also set up in the school’s lobby for the day along with pictures of veterans connected to the NHS community.

Other Newtown schools also chose to honor Veterans Day this year.

Newtown Police Department Security Resource Officer Rich Monckton spoke to first to eighth grade students at Fraser Woods Montessori School during a student gathering. According to Head of School Chris Robertson, Ofc Monckton shared a slideshow and spoke to the students about his deployment with the army. He also spoke to the students about both Veterans Day and Memorial Day. Mr Robertson said this was the first time his school has held a Veterans Day assembly.

St Rose of Lima School has a Veterans Day assembly, prayer service, and more scheduled for Monday, November 13, to honor the day and local veterans. The school’s eighth grade and third grade classes will host the events, which will include a social time with students, according to the school.

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