Students salute Southington soldiers: Schools learn about Veterans Day

U.S. Army veteran David Maynard, center, is embraced by his granddaughters, Grace Zehnder, left, and Kathryn Zehnder, right, at the Veterans Day ceremony at Zaya Oshana Elementary School last Friday. (Photo by Janelle Morelli)



Throughout the community ceremonies were held in observance of Veterans Day. The public school system was closed on Monday, Nov. 11, so classrooms dedicated time on Friday, Nov. 8, to teach students about the day of thanks and remembrance.

“The students have been working hard to show their appreciation and gratitude for the service of our veterans, but more than anything, it’s such a great way to teach our students the significance of Veterans Day, and really, the true meaning behind it,” said Oshana Elementary School principal Josie Rogala.

At Rogala’s school, veterans were treated to a breakfast catered by Ally G’s Everyday Angels Foundation, and veteran David Maynard walked away with a raffle prize donated by Mission BBQ. After greeting their students, veterans were lead to the gymnasium where they took part in a ceremony that included students in every grade level.

The program included the fifth grade members of STEPS serving as the color guard and presenting the white table ceremony, and fifth grade students taking part in a presentation of national memorials that celebrate veterans and the armed forces. Fourth grade students sang “My Country, My America,” and many of the veterans sang along with them.

The kindergarteners opened the ceremony by leading those assembled in the pledge of allegiance. Students in the first grade recited the poem “Veterans Day.” Second graders had previously made thank you cards that were distributed to the veterans who attended, and the third grade students sang a rendition of “You’re a Grand Old Flag.”

Ally G’s Everyday Angels Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded by Allyson Genovese, with a very simple mission: “to help those in need worldwide and across our country,” said Genovese.

Robert Lalla, center, enjoys a moment with his children Isabelle, left, and Evan, right, during the Veteran’s Day ceremony at Oshana school last Friday. (Photo by Janelle Morelli)

The foundation has catered the breakfast for the past several years, she explained, ever since her fourth grade daughter began attending Oshana. And each year her father, a veteran himself, attends the program. Genovese said she thinks school-based Veterans Day programs are an important way of teaching the youth, to really open their eyes to the sacrifices made by the armed service.

Southington town councilor and U.S. Army veteran Chris Poulos said he believes these programs can stand as a lesson of how “this country has been preserved.”

“Let the kids understand that it’s not just a day off, you know, it’s not a festive holiday. It’s not Christmas. We’re honoring the people who gave what they could for their country,” said Tom Montagano, a U.S. Navy veteran. “We sleep calmly at night because rough men will go out and do terrible things on your behalf that you’ll never hear of, so that you can live a good life, and turn on your light and put gas in your car.”

“I’m hoping that that’s really what is ultimately going to come across, the understanding [of] why we do this for our veterans and how important it is for us to recognize [them], not only [to] thank them for their service but never forget their service,” said Rogala.

Several community organizations also took part in Veterans Day observances, including the American Legion Kiltonic Post 72 who hosted their annual ceremony at Post 72; the Southington-Cheshire YMCA which hosted a free luncheon on Nov. 8, and offered a week of free membership from Sunday, Nov. 10, to Saturday, Nov. 16, to all veterans; the Calendar House, where a veterans-themed poetry program was held; and more.

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