Poland Veterans Day Assembly an emotional experience for local veterans
Nov. 9, 2018
Local veterans listen to comments from Poland Central School District Principal Greg Cuthbertson during the school’s annual Veterans Day Assembly on Friday, Nov. 9.
POLAND – Near the end of Poland Central School District’s annual Veterans Day Assembly, students in kindergarten through eighth grade sang “God Bless the USA” to veterans and completed the song by standing up to wave red, white and blue ribbons.
Ted Ossont, who started in the U.S. Navy and is currently in the U.S. Army, said veterans normally keep their emotions held in until about that moment in the assembly.
“The singing part always chokes up everybody,” Ossont said.
Joseph Ancona, an Army veteran and director of the Feed Our Vets Utica pantry, said the same about the reaction to the students singing.
“They make me cry every year – every stinkin’ year,” Ancona said. “I look at them, and it elates me at what these kids do.”
More than 35 local veterans attended the Veterans Day Assembly and breakfast on Friday, Nov. 9, at Poland Central School District. The hallways were decorated with signs thanking veterans, and many students and staff dressed in red, white and blue.
Before the Veterans Day Assembly, local veterans are treated to breakfast in the cafeteria, and their families and any students who are relatives, friends or neighbors may join them. The assembly then takes place in the Trzepacz Gym with veterans seated up front and students in kindergarten through eighth grade seated throughout the gym.
The assembly included:
- A Color Guard presentation by Drum Line and Guard members Zyanna Irving Summers, Carter Cookinham, Owen Yost, Ty Teel, Anthony Caruso, Jared Young, Titan Warney, MaKenna Gemelli and Marisa Cheuvront.
- The “Pledge of Allegiance” led by kindergarten students.
- A singing of the “National Anthem” by students Madisyn Kraeger, Isabella Mowers, Sarah Zuchowski, Nathan Nellis, Hunter Houghtaling and Jarrett Papp, along with music teacher Jocelyn Rauch.
- A singing of “Thank a Vet” by fourth-grade students.
- Comments from Poland Principal Greg Cuthbertson.
- A reading of a presidential proclamation by student Jamie Weakley.
- A reading of “America’s White Table” by student Sarah Ahles and a setting up of the “Missing Man Table” by students Alexis Bates and Shelby Rommel.
- Self-introductions by all the veterans, who stood up one at a time to say their military experience and which students invited them to the event.
- A presentation of donated canned goods and money to Feed Our Vets.
- A singing of “God Bless the USA” by all students in kindergarten through eighth grade.
- The playing of “Taps” by students Kaiden Stemmer and Emily Smith.
Feed Our Vets
This is the sixth year that Poland Central School District has donated canned goods and money to Feed Our Vets during the Veterans Day Assembly.
This year’s goal was to collect 500 cans, and more than 830 were donated, Cuthbertson. Through a staff dress down day and a donation for the second year in a row by fifth-grader Maddox Clark, the school also raised $250 to donate to Feed Our Vets.
Cuthbertson presented the items and a check during the assembly to Ancona and Feed Our Vets co-founder Michele Synek.
The Poland community repeatedly finds a way to top itself with donations, Ancona said.
“Every year, it goes up and up,” he said.
Feed Our Vets thanks everyone who supported the effort, Ancona said.
The assembly – including the breakfast beforehand – ranks at the top of local school events for veterans, Ancona said.
“They treat us great,” he said. “And the food’s good.”
Ossont attended the Veterans Day Assembly at the invite of family friend, Poland third-grader Kaylee Lewandrowski, and he was also welcomed by his niece, Poland fourth-grader Julia Ossont.
He has been to the event in the past when his daughters were in school, he said.
“The ceremony is always very nice,” he said.
Hearing from veterans during the assembly also lets students learn more about potential military career paths, Ossont said.
“It gives them the opportunity to know what’s available – there are so many jobs in the military,” he said. “You can be anything from an airplane pilot to a veterinarian. And you get to travel around the world.”
Army veteran Charles Clifford attended the breakfast with his great grandson, Poland fifth-grader Connir Morrison. Both said that the school hosting the event for veterans is “a good thing.”
Clifford said he appreciates that the event introduces younger students to the idea of appreciating veterans.
“It’s really good,” he said. “There’s a lot of people here.”
Connir said he likes having the opportunity to thank veterans during the assembly.
“It makes me feel good,” he said.
Cuthbertson spoke during the assembly about the goal being to honor veterans and remember their dedication and sacrifice to the country. The servicemen and servicewomen show many positive character traits such as courage, pride, determination and selflessness, he said.
“Today is a day to remember and say thank you,” he said.
Poland’s small event serves as a reminder about thanking veterans and how they’ve affected everyone’s lives, Cuthbertson said.
“Be thankful,” he said. “Appreciate your freedoms.”
Poland Central School District Principal Greg Cuthbertson (at the podium) presents more than 850 canned goods and a check for $250 to Feed Our Vets during the school’s annual Veterans Day Assembly on Friday, Nov. 9. Accepting the check were, from left: Feed Our Vets co-founder Michele Synek and Joseph Ancona, an Army veteran and director of the Feed Our Vets Utica pantry. The canned goods were donated by the Poland school community, and the money was collected from a staff dress down day and a donation by fifth-grader Maddox Clark.
Ted Ossont, who started off in the Navy and currently serves in the Army, poses with his niece, Poland Central School District fourth-grader Julia Ossont, 9, following the school’s annual Veterans Day Assembly on Friday, Nov. 9.
Army veteran Charles Clifford poses with his great grandson, Poland Central School District fifth-grader Connir Morrison, 10, after they had breakfast together at school prior to the annual Veterans Day Assembly on Friday, Nov. 9.
Poland Central School District students and staff wave red, white and blue ribbons while singing “God Bless the USA” to local veterans during the school’s annual Veterans Day Assembly on Friday, Nov. 9.
From left, Poland Central School District student Sarah Ahles reads “America’s White Table,” as students Shelby Rommel and Alexis Bates set up the “Missing Man Table” to honor veterans during the school’s annual Veterans Day Assembly on Friday, Nov. 9.