Schools Celebrate Local Veterans

By Liz Premo

Atlantic News, Thursday, November 14, 2002

[The following article is courtesy of the Atlantic News]

HAMPTON — Students and staff within the Hampton school district expressed their heartfelt patriotism and appreciation for local Veterans at separate Veterans' Day ceremonies held last week at their respective schools.

Kindergarten, first and second grade classes at Centre School gathered first thing Friday morning in front of their building. where they recited the Pledge of Allegiance as the American flag was run up the flagpole by custodian David Parrish.

Using the time block that is normally referred to as the daily "Morning Meeting" period in the school's Responsive Classroom program, Principal Nancy Andrews shared with students the importance of honoring Veterans and her own experience as the relative of a Veteran. Additional related interaction between the classes took place as well, prior to the entire ensemble singing a selection of patriotic songs to mark the occasion.

A First For Marston

Marston School students stand at attention during the National Anthem at the school's first-ever Veterans' Day event. Local Veterans and a MJROTC color guard from Winnacunnet High School were present at both ceremonies.
[Atlantic News photo by Liz Premo]

Marston School also held its very first Veterans' Day observance on Friday, organized by music teacher Pat Liddy and held in the school gymnasium. With a MJROTC color guard from Winnacunnet High School presenting the American and New Hampshire flags. The event began with welcoming comments by Principal David O'Connor, the flag pledge led by teacher Roland Tremblay and a group of students leading the National Anthem.

American Legion Post #35 Commander Ralph Fatello, a Marine Corps Veteran, addressed the group of grade 3- 5 students, staff and visiting Veterans. Fatello punctuated his observations on the different roles of those in the military by asking his listeners: Which one is the Veteran — the guy in combat or the guy in supply? "They both are," answered one student. "That's right!" responded Fatello.

Prior to reading a message from President George W. Bush ("Take time to honor and remember our Veterans who have served our country," wrote the president), Fatello encouraged students to say "thank you" to any Veterans they happened to know.

As the proceedings continued, students from Jean Kenick's class offered special readings about Armistice Day, and a quartet of musicians from Hampton Academy Junior High School played "America the Beautiful," accompanied by instructor Andrew Price on the keyboard. Hampton resident Fred Rice, an Army Veteran, spoke on honor and truthfulness on behalf of Army Captain Rose Sully, a scheduled speaker who was unable to attend the ceremony.

Rice went on to observe that Veterans are people who serve their country both in time of war, and during peacetime. He encouraged students to read the names of local Veterans memorialized on bronze street signs and on monuments around town, reminding them that they "were people who went off to serve this community."

Rice's comments were reflected by a number of colorful and striking posters hanging in the gym that were created by students from three third grade classes taught by teachers Rachel Dennis, Courtney Griffin, and Priscilla McCallum, and in pictorial booklets like one assembled by student Michael Ponchak. In his book, Michael wrote, "A Veteran is a person who fought in a war to save our country. I am proud of the Veterans who fought in a war to save my life."

Marston's salute to Veterans came to its conclusion with a musical selection on bagpipes by Jay Conant, closing comments by Fatello (who led an inspiring chant of "USA! USA! USA!"), and the retiring of the colors by the MJROTC color guard.

Hampton Academy Junior High School held their annual observance of the national holiday on Thursday in the school's Eastman Gym. Approximately 30 or so honored guests from all branches of military service were in attendance.

Hosted by HAJH student council officers and organized by faculty members Pam Carr, Pam Harland and Sheila Nudd, the ceremony began with comments offered by Principal Kevin Moran and students Emily Jefferson and Katie Callan.

AN HONORABLE OCCASION -- American Legion Post #35 member John MacInnis (at podium) gives the invocation and the benediction at last week's Veterans' Day ceremony held at Hampton Academy Junior High School. [Atlantic News photo by Liz Premo]

The MJROTC color guard made an appearance at this ceremony as well, standing at attention while Veteran John MacGinnis of American Legion Post #35 offered the invocation. This was followed by the National Anthem, led by Veteran Jeremiah Lonergan and beautifully presented in sign language by HAJH student Natasha Lundgren.

In special readings, a "History of Veterans' Day" was read by Brenda Shepard; Allix Rashid recited the timely poem "In Flanders Field." Erin Galvin and Emily Demchyk offered "The Numbers," a comparison of the staggering number of military personnel who served and died in World War I and II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Gulf War.

Following a sixth grade chorus performance (accompanied by music teacher Elizabeth Peterson) of an Armed Forces Medley (Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard and Air Force), the music continued with an invitation for the audience to join in a chorus of "God Bless America." Guest Speaker Stanwood Brown (Hampton Academy, Class of 1943) was then introduced by his grandson, Carleton Simpson.

Taking his place behind the podium, Brown recalled how 229 Hampton Academy graduates had gone off to join the military, with 10 dying in service to their country. He told students how they are "probably the best educated" students in the history of the school, saying that the "knowledge and education we got at the Academy has paled by the knowledge and education you have today."

Brown attributed this increase in academic strength to four factors: Television ("You've seen history in the making"); the computer ("By the time you get to high school you'll be very proficient"); better schools ("You have more and better-educated teachers"); and citizen volunteers ("So many citizen volunteers [give] freely of their time — they've done a lot for you"). Brown noted that many of the volunteers students see helping out at HAJH are in fact Veterans who are "pleased and proud that such a distinctive group of students" attend the school.

Prior to closing remarks, a benediction and the playing of "Taps" by Matt Varney and Eden Blume, each visiting Veteran was called up by name to the front of the audience to be greeted by Principal Moran and Assistant Principal Stan Shupe. Everyone rose up to give a standing ovation to those who served their community and their nation, expressing appreciation for the fact that thanks to their service, "we don't have to worry about losing our freedom or the lifestyle we cherish in this country."