On Thursday morning, November 10th, the students and staff of Race Brook School in Orange held a special Veteran’s Day assembly to honor the men and women in the military who have served their country. The assembly and the activities afterwards were carefully planned and organized by the directors of the school’s Student Council: JoAnne Escandon, Pam Galatioto, and Janet Greenspan. The assembly organizers and school principal, Mike Gray, began the assembly with a special thank you to all the parents, students, and staff who worked on putting together the assembly. “We are a community of learners at Race Brook School, working and learning together in the process,” states JoAnne Escandon. Student Council was also able to raise $508 in donations for Homes for Heroes. Homes for Heroes is an organization that raises donations to help heroes of our nation save on a home and on home-related purchases.
The veterans were genuinely impressed with the warm welcome and very attentive behavior of over 400 elementary students during the hour-long assembly. The majority of the attending veterans were relatives and friends of the school’s families. A vivid onscreen MS PowerPoint presentation displaying photos of the veterans with identifying captions and apropos lyrics playing in the background touched the hearts of everyone in the audience. The children sang well-rehearsed songs to pay tribute to the veterans. They also wrote heartfelt poems and letters of gratitude and handed them out to their guests during the assembly. “Many children don’t understand the full meaning of the day. It’s important for them to recognize the sacrifice that our veterans have made for their freedom,” says Pam Galatioto.
The veteran guests were further honored in the classrooms after the assembly where they had the opportunity to share their backgrounds in serving our country and answer questions for students. Many of the veterans shared treasured memorabilia of their service, including uniforms, medals, and scrapbook photos. The veteran guests had the opportunity to continue their conversations in a continental breakfast reception provided by the Student Council and held in one of the school’s classrooms. The guests were very touched by the school’s efforts to acknowledge all of the veterans as patriots and heroes who showed courage and strength and made many sacrifices for the freedom of our country.
A fifth grader, Julie C., included the following in her letter of gratitude to veterans: “Thank you so much for all you have done for our country. I can never pay you back enough for your service. No matter which branch of the armed forces you served on, the people of the United States and I appreciate all the sacrifices you willingly made for us. You have protected our freedom and liberty, making us an outstanding country.”