Getting scholars to pay rapt attention during an assembly is no easy feat, but that’s exactly what the panelists at SA Upper West’s Veterans Day Community Circle were able to do. The event was the brain-child of Assistant Science Teacher, Juan Rosario, an Air Force Veteran of six years. Inspired by his scholars, he wanted to do something to help them understand why we celebrate Veterans Day—by meeting and hearing from real veterans.
Inspired by his scholars, he wanted to do something to help them understand why we celebrate Veterans Day—by meeting and hearing from real veterans.
Assistant Principal, Jennifer Lawrence, and Community Relations Coordinator, Pooja Kumari, turned the idea into a full-fledged celebration. Assembled from members of the SA community, including a kindergartener’s mom and a MilVet Talent Recruiter from the Network office, a 6-person panel of veterans fielded questions from scholars and were treated to a rendition of the Star Spangled Banner by the school’s Musical Theater group, as well as the school-wide tradition of doing a Shabooya roll call cheer.
When Mark, a fourth grade scholar, asked the panel “How did you train for your role?”, Mr. Rosario took the opportunity to shout “Study, study, study!! I studied so hard. Just like you guys.” The favorite question of the day was asked by third-grader Aaron: “Were your generals or commanders strict?” Jesse Tossetti, a Milvet Talent Recruiter for SA and Navy veteran, fielded the question and tossed it back “Is your principal or teacher strict?” Once the giggles from the audience quieted down, he continued to explain that rules and a joint understanding of expectations make everything run smoothly, keep everyone safe, and allow space for fun.
Reflecting on the event, Jesse shared, “It was great to see the excitement on the kids’ faces when they heard our answers. They were really listening! And that Shabooyah thing was absolutely awesome. I truly appreciate the support that this community gives all of us.”
Ms. Lawrence agreed. “It was amazing to see our school community come together to honor veterans! We are already thinking of other opportunities for veterans in our community to come and talk with our scholars more about teamwork and perseverance. I loved how they explained the importance in the military of working together to support each other and what it means to be part of one diverse but unified family.”
The veterans were able to share perspectives on a wide range of topics from the exciting places they got to travel to, whether army food is better than school cafeteria food, and their reasons for serving. While the scholars left with a new level of respect and admiration, the veterans were moved by the experience too. As Navy veteran Alan Murphy reflected “My favorite part was the anthem and the thank you notes. It was just all so cute and really moving. The event honestly signifies SACS’ commitment to our veterans. I love that we got the chance to show the kids that we all still serve our community with or without the uniform on.”