Children were able to experience history by listening to those who lived it at the annual Veterans Day program at McKenna Elementary School in the Massapequa School District on Nov. 7. Veterans visited classrooms to tell their stories and answer students’ questions about their service and life after the military.
Assistant Principal Mary Anne Ferraro said that the 47 veterans who attended the program are all related to McKenna students. Each classroom, kindergarten through fifth grade, had at least one visitor. The guests ranged from veterans who fought in World War II to those currently serving, and represented all branches of the armed forces.
Richard Grodski, who was in the Navy during the Korean War, enjoyed the interaction with the students. He said his hope was that they gained an appreciation for the sacrifices that veterans have made.
“The program was tremendous and the kids had great questions,” he said. “The whole thing was very, very well done.”
After speaking in classrooms, veterans visited the Hall of Heroes. The hallway leading from the auditorium to the gymnasium was transformed with patriotic artwork made by students from kindergarten through fifth grade. It also included a photo slideshow and a display of memorabilia loaned to the school by the veterans, including helmets, jackets, photographs and medals.
Children showed their appreciation in many other ways, such as in Lisa Mullin’s fourth grade class, where they shook the hands of the five veterans who visited and made thank-you cards and posters. Students and staff also wore red, white and blue to school.
“The event was a success,” Ferraro said. “Our goal was to connect veterans and students and to learn through discussion.”