thank you, veterans
“Thank you.” The message was said over a dozen times in John Jay Middle School’s Veterans Day assembly and conveyed non-verbally a dozen times more—in the respectful way students conversed with the visiting veterans and in the purposeful and welcoming way the entire morning was put together.
Approximately twenty veterans gathered in the middle school cafeteria for breakfast on Friday, November 8. Each one had a student partner, in many cases his or her child or grandchild. Some veterans knew each other from the community. Others recognized where and in what branch a fellow veteran served because of the symbols on their cap or jacket and enthusiastically went over to shake hands and introduce themselves. The cammaderie was tangible.
A community welcome
Students escorted the veterans down a hallway decorated with special posters created in Homebase
An assembly for all 8th graders
Next stop: The Veterans Day assembly in the school’s theater. Students escorted the veterans down a hallway decorated with special posters created in Homebase. A standing ovation greeted them as they entered the theater.
"Thank you for being here and for keeping all of us safe," said Principal Jeff Swiatowicz in his opening remarks. Social studies teacher Paul Ciancio spoke about what it means to serve and the related words of service and servant. He quoted Ben the Cow from the movie "Barnyard"—"A strong man stands up for himself, a stronger man stands up for others."
"Your presence means the world to us.”
Student presentations followed. Christian Herlihy led the Pledge of Allegiance, Tucker Salazar read “Our Flag,” Alicia Degaetano read “Thank you, Veterans,” Zoe Dollar read “Women in Service,” and Jack Pryor read “Unfinished Task.”
One of the most moving parts of the assembly was a video montage of photograph of the veterans in the room as well as others related to the John Jay Middle School community, noting where and when each had served. Their careers spanned from World War II and the Gulf War to active duty.
“My dad served in Vietnam,” said Principal Swiatowicz. “He didn’t want to talk about it. Today, we are not asking you to talk about your experiences. We just want to say thank you. Your presence means the world to us.”