Barnum Woods Honors Veterans

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A time-honored tradition at Barnum Woods Elementary School continued on November 9, when Elena Maria Dicocco’s fourth-grade class hosted a meaningful Veteran’s Day ceremony. This marked the thirteenth year that Ms. Dicocco has organized this special tribute to those who have served our country. 

Approximately 27 veterans were in attendance and included Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kenneth A. Card, Jr. and school psychologist Dr. LeeAnne Bonnet.  Dr. Card served as a personnel man second class in the United States Navy and Dr. Bonnet was a captain in the Army. They both emphasized the fact that individuals can serve in the military and also pursue professions such as theirs. Ms. Dicocco’s father and several of his friends were also among the honored guests, as were parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and family friends of students and staff members. 

The fourth-graders welcomed the veterans into the All-Purpose Room as Lee Greenwood’s, “God Bless the USA” played, and flags were waved. Student Council representatives led the Pledge of Allegiance and the Star-Spangled Banner, and Principal Gregory Bottari shared introductory remarks. Students took turns at the podium, where they explained the significance of Veteran’s Day, led a moment of silence while Taps was played, and described positive qualities that soldiers exemplify. For each of the seven Pillars of Character, Nicolas Rodriguez and Maxton Shafran folded an American flag to form a tri-cornered shape representative of hats worn by soldiers during the Revolutionary War. 

The students introduced their guests and paid homage to the veterans who are either deceased or were unable to attend the ceremony. Several of the veterans then spoke, noting the meanings behind this annual event that acknowledges their humbling, life-altering experiences in the military. 

Korean War Veteran Richard Begandy, who served as a Petty Officer Third Class in the United States Navy, shared ten inspiring lessons that focused on qualities such as responsibility, trustworthiness, determination and gratitude. 

“If you keep trying, your confidence grows tremendously,” Begandy said. “Eventually, you feel that nothing is beyond your reach.” He also expressed that in the military, people are relying on each other all the time and are able to count on one another. 

“Being a veteran is significant because it represents fealty and fidelity to one’s country,” said Dr. Card. “It was through my military service that I learned how to be honest, a good citizen and a leader.” 

The class came together to perform Mariah Carey’s “Hero,” guests viewed a slideshow of the veterans being honored and Mr. Bottari addressed attendees once more. Students concluded the ceremony with a “Greenlight a Veteran” gesture, in which they lit green glowsticks symbolizing hope as the veterans exited the stage. This act is intended to shine a light on the impact transitioning veterans make, in and out of uniform, in communities across the country. 

The class prepared for the ceremony through lessons leading up to it. They read about, researched and discussed Veterans’ Day and wrote reflective pieces about why veterans should be honored.  

“I want my students to have an appreciation and respect for those men and women who served our country and protected our freedoms,” Ms. Dicocco said.