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Poland Central School District honors veterans with annual celebration

Nov. 8, 2019



Students put on red, white and blue performance for veterans


Poland Central School District fourth-graders and fifth-graders perform for veterans during the annual Poland Veterans Day Celebration on Friday, Nov. 8. At least 40 veterans attended the event, which includes breakfast for veterans and then an assembly featuring student performances, donations to Feed Our Vets and veterans introducing themselves.





POLAND – Near the end of the annual Poland Central School District Veterans Day Celebration, students danced draped in American flags, waved small flags, boosted up students dressed as Uncle Sam and the Statue of Liberty, held up signs with the letters “USA” and moved giant red, white and blue ribbons in a circle – all while Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA” played over the speakers.

The performance by students in fourth and fifth grade was one of the many highlights of an event to celebrate local veterans on Friday, Nov. 8.

U.S. Air Force veteran Kristina LaBarge attended with her father, Walter Miller, who also is an Air Force veteran, because she has two nephews who go to school at Poland: Jake Miller and Jared Young. LaBarge said this is her eighth year going to the celebration.

“I really enjoy it, I do,” she said. “I love the small town communities. It makes it more homey.”

At least 40 veterans attended Poland Central School District’s annual Veterans Day Celebration with students in kindergarten through eighth grade. Students are able to invite relatives, family friends and neighbors who are veterans and have a breakfast with them, before an assembly takes place in the Trzepacz Gym.

The hallways were decorated with displays honoring veterans, and many students and staff wore red, white and blue. Multiple donations were made during the assembly to Feed Our Vets.

The assembly included:

  • A Color Guard presentation by Drum Line and Guard members Owen Yost, Ty Neel, Anthony Caruso, Noah Lamphere, Noah Taylor and Connir Morrison.

  • The “Pledge of Allegiance” led by kindergarten students.

  • A singing of the “National Anthem” by members of the senior high chorus, with sign language done by Poland cheerleaders.

  • A singing of “Oh, I Love America” by first-grade students.

  • Words of welcome from Poland Principal Greg Cuthbertson.

  • The reciting of a Veterans Day Poem by Cheryl Dyson by second-graders and third-graders.

  • Self-introductions by all of the veterans seated at the front of the gymnasium who stood up one at a time to say their military experience and which students invited them to the event.

  • Poland senior Bailey Dunn speaking about a service project she did to raise money for Feed Our Vets and honor veterans and then reading a proclamation about Veterans Day from Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

  • A presentation of canned goods and a check to Feed Our Vets by Cuthbertson and students Carliza Roark and Victoria Rommel.

  • The previously mentioned performance by fourth-graders and fifth-graders.

  • The playing of “Taps” by students Kaiden Stemmer and Emily Smith.

‘Every year is better’


Poland Central School District has been supporting Feed Our Vets during the annual Veterans Day Celebration for each of the past several years.

Cuthbertson said the school set a goal of collecting 700 items to donate to Feed Our Vets this year. As of the night before the event, more then 1,300 items had been collected, and it was probably up to as many as 1,400 to 1,500 by the time the assembly started, he said.

Roark and Rommel added that the Poland National Honor Society donated more than 120 cans of food and more than $250 to Feed Our Vets.

Dunn did a service project in connection to attending the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards over the summer. She received donated flags from the Herkimer VFW and then asked people to sponsor the flags for $5 each in honor or in memory of veterans.

The flags are on display in front of the school and have ribbons connected to them displaying the veterans’ names, branches of the military and dates they served.

Through the flag sponsorships and other donations, Dunn was able to raise $638, which she donated to Feed Our Vets during the assembly.

Dunn said she wanted to do the project to honor veterans with the flags and because she has many veterans in her family, including her mother Corey O’Neil, a U.S. Navy veteran who attended the celebration.

Following the assembly, Dunn was happy about being able to make the donation to Feed Our Vets.

“It feels really nice,” she said. “It’s a really good feeling. Also knowing it will go to people who really need it. Thanksgiving is coming up too, so it’s good timing.”

Richard Synek, the Feed Our Vets founder and executive director, and Joseph Ancona, the director of the Feed Our Vets Utica Pantry, were in attendance to accept the donations and participate in the assembly.

Ancona said Poland increases the amount of donated items by 200 or 300 pounds every year, and this year was a new record.

“Every year is better,” he said, about the donations and the student performances. “This is the best. This was the best we’ve seen.”

‘Service and sacrifice’

During the assembly, Cuthbertson thanked teaching assistant Tracy Irwin and music teacher Jocelyn Rauch for their large roles in the celebration – as well as teachers, staff and others for helping with the event.

The biggest thanks, of course, went to the veterans.

“Today is a day to remember and a day to say thank you,” Cuthbertson said, during his comments as part of the assembly.

Cuthbertson said the reason for the celebration is to honor veterans and celebrate the choice they made to serve their country.

“We are indebted to your service and your sacrifice,” he said.

Before the assembly, Cuthbertson also spoke about how it’s important for students to know what servicemen and servicewomen have done for their country, and the celebration personalizes that for the students.

“It’s a learning experience for our kids,” he said.




Students dance with American flags at Veterans Day Celebration


Poland Central School District fourth-graders and fifth-graders perform for veterans during the annual Poland Veterans Day Celebration on Friday, Nov. 8. At least 40 veterans attended the event, which includes breakfast for veterans and then an assembly featuring student performances, donations to Feed Our Vets and veterans introducing themselves.




Students hold their arms out with American flags behind them


Poland Central School District fourth-graders and fifth-graders perform for veterans during the annual Poland Veterans Day Celebration on Friday, Nov. 8. At least 40 veterans attended the event, which includes breakfast for veterans and then an assembly featuring student performances, donations to Feed Our Vets and veterans introducing themselves.




Veterans and members of Poland Color Guard stand during assembly


Veterans stand for a Color Guard presentation during the annual Poland Central School District Veterans Day Celebration on Friday, Nov. 8.




Student Bailey Dunn with representatives from Feed Our Vets


Poland Central School District senior Bailey Dunn (center) poses with Feed Our Vets founder and Executive Director Richard Synek (left) and Feed Our Vets Utica Pantry Director Joseph Ancona (right) after Dunn donated $638 to Feed Our Vets during the school’s annual Veterans Day Celebration. Dunn raised the money through a service project involving sponsoring flags to honor veterans. Poland Central School District also donated more than 1,300 items to Feed Our Vets, and the Poland National Honor Society donated more than 120 cans of food and more than $250.