District celebrates Veterans Day in many ways with staff and students
By Brit Milazzo
Public relations, BASD
Editor's note: While district Public Relations Director Brit Milazzo was working with Benner Elementary School second-grade teacher Nicole Harris' class for this feature, she also spoke with students and answered questions about her time with the U.S. Navy. Students from Bellefonte Area High School’s Red and White student newspaper are responsible for the editing and headline of this article, due to further conflict of interest with Milazzo as a writer and activity participant.
There was a unique display at Pleasant Gap Elementary School during Veterans Day that took many students on a historical journey more than 100 years ago. Fifth-grade teacher Adam Gearhart brought in old military medals, ribbons, attire and more, including a uniform his great-grandfather Harry Hicks wore during World War I when he was an infantryman in the U.S. Army.
The display also included medals his grandfather was given for his service in World War II as a corporal in the U.S. Army while deployed in Africa and Germany. His grandfather, James Leroy Weyer, received the Silver Star and Purple Heart.
Meanwhile, at Benner Elementary School, some local veterans stopped by the school to speak with students, and partake in a luncheon and ice-cream social.
In Nicole Harris’ second-grade class, students read books about members of the military and their families, and then wrote letters to those deployed overseas. Among those they wrote to included a former Benner Bear who is now serving in Poland and Principal Kris Vancas’ daughter who is stationed in Romania. It’s something Harris annually does with her class to let those deployed know others are thinking of them. This summer, service members received letters that they shared among each other from Harris’ students. *You can see a photo of the soldiers displaying their letters in the gallery included in this article.
When asked what Brayden Ripka was going to write in his letter, he said “just ask how they’re doing, because I really want it to be a good day.”
After school, many of the second-grade students also stopped by Centre Crest to visit with the home’s 35 veteran residents.
And at Marion-Walker Elementary School, its annual Veterans Day celebration was held throughout the day to commemorate the service and sacrifices of the nation's veterans. It started with the daily Pledge of Allegiance and National Anthem; followed by watching historical videos; in-class activities, including writing letters to veterans; grade-level presentations; watching video tributes to the five branches of the military; meeting local veterans and current members of the military; and more.
Other teachers also recognized the holiday with class lessons, projects, field trips and more. They included, but are not limited to:
- Band Director Caleb Rebarchak and members of the marching band performed at the courthouse for the Veterans day ceremony at 11 a.m.
- Sixth-grade social studies teacher Jennifer Kerr watched a History Channel video with her class that explained the origin and evolution of Armistice Day to Veterans Day.
- High school social studies teacher Matt Maris held a discussion with his class followed by showing pictures, watching videos and reading poems about Veterans Day. The objective of this lesson is to honor veterans, discuss WWI, and integrate art and poetry into history.
- Jessica Lloyd’s high school journalism students wrote letters to the editor, thanking veterans for their service. They had the option to submit it to the Centre Daily Times. On Veterans Day, freshman Davis Corman’s letter was printed. You can read it, here: Remembering the real heroes on Veterans Day
- According to teacher Ed Fitzgerald, senior social studies teachers offer their student the chance to register for the draft through the government website. From there, he said, there was discussions about females in the military, and registering for the draft by doing a close read of the U.S. Supreme Court case Rostker vs. Goldberg. It is a way to spur discussion, while providing an opportunity to register.
- Paula Hendershot's second-grade class at Pleasant Gap Elementary School made 35 cards to send to local veterans.
Bellefonte Elementary School kindergarten students created thank-you cards for residents at Centre Crest who served in the military.