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Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Students Learn While Thanking Veterans

By Mary Casey-SturkAll images provided by Cardinal Pacelli School

Cardinal Pacelli School will again welcome veterans this November with a special celebration in their honor.

For the fourth year, the school invites all veterans from the Greater Cincinnati community to join them on Monday, November 11th at 1 p.m. for a patriotic and thoughtful celebration of their service. All veterans, service members and their families are welcome - you do not need to have a connection to the school.

At last year’s event, 27 Veterans, representing all five branches of the Armed Forces, were honored for their service to our country. The student-led ceremony highlighted the veterans with prayer, word and songs. The entire student body, preschool-8th grade participated.

Cardinal Pacelli students stand for the Pledge of Allegiance during the school's Veterans Day celebration on November 12, 2018.
Music filled the air as the students played instruments, including two trumpeters performing “Taps,” and students sang patriotic favorites including “God Bless America” and “The Star-Spangled Banner.”  Wide eyes and smiles met the veterans as the students entertained their guests and got to learn about what each veteran did in service to our country. The veterans, joined by their children and grandchildren, introduced themselves and shared stories. 

Each veteran was presented with a star obtained from a group that repurposes American flags. A note accompanying it read, "Today we present you with a star. This star was once a part of an American flag that has shaped and witnessed American history. It has served time representing our country, much like you. The students and staff of Cardinal Pacelli School would like you to know that the time you served IS NOT forgotten."

Veterans Day was first known as Armistice Day and became a United States legal holiday in 1938 to honor the end of World War I, which officially took place on November 11, 1918. Later, after both World War II and the Korean War, the United States Congress amended the name to the one known by now. Veterans Day continues to honor veterans each November 11th.

Twenty-seven veterans were honored at  the 2018 Cardinal Pacelli's Veterans Day celebration. 
In Greater Cincinnati, more than 110,000 residents have served in the Armed Forces (Cincinnati Enquirer 12/18). Annually, veterans are honored with different events on Veterans Day around the community, including this one at Cardinal Pacelli School.

Principal Terri Cento shares how the students participate with the event. “The students sing, the younger kids hold flags. There is a flag honor guard led by Boy Scouts (students) and older kids from the Student Council, served as the emcees.”  She adds, “The students learn a lot about the sacrifices made.”

Communications Manager, Alisha Fisher noted that “having a real person talking about what they did in the military makes it real for the kids,” as well as the students learning about “service before self.”
Cincinnati resident, Sister Eileen Connelly served in the Army Reserves at the 812th Signal Company and on active duty at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pa. and Supreme Headquarters Allied Powered Europe (SHAPE), Belgium.  We asked her to share what Veterans Day means to her.

Decorations for the Veterans Day celebration
"For me, Veterans Day represents sacrifice, hope and freedom. It's an opportunity to show our support and respect to the women and men who have stepped forward to serve our country and a cause greater than themselves. We remember with gratitude those who laid down their lives to preserve peace. I never saw combat but served alongside soldiers who did. Their courage and patriotism remain an inspiration to me." 

The school’s commitment to veterans does not end with Veterans Day. They have recently been designated as a Purple Star School, which Fisher describes as “a recognition of schools that are military friendly and honors military families and veterans and addresses the need of students with family members in the military.”

These branches of the armed forces were recognized at the celebration.
In order to meet the criteria to be a Purple Star School, it must do the following activities per the Ohio Department of Education: “The school must have a staff point of contact for military students and families who serves as the primary liaison between them and the school. The liaison completes professional development on special considerations for military students and families under federal law.  The liaison identifies and informs teachers of the military-connected students in their classrooms and the special considerations military families and students should receive. The school maintains a dedicated page on its website featuring resources for military families.”  The school has done this, and engaged their students as well.

Spearheaded by third grade teacher Allie Lampe, the school’s Purple Star status has kept the students engaged year-round. In the past year, the students have raised money for veterans by making and selling poppies, and by wearing purple shirts. Principal Cento describes Purple Up Day:  “The students got to wear purple (instead of their normal uniforms) and each brought a dollar that was then donated to The Gary Sinese Foundation”.  There is also a Veterans Day Girls Basketball Tournament. The Tournament invites veterans to attend for free and they are recognized during a half time.”

Witness the students’ enthusiasm yourself and attend the Veterans Day Celebration this November 11th at Cardinal Pacelli School, 927 Ellison Avenue in Mt. Lookout.  This annual event is held to thank local veterans, Service Members and their families and the school hopes you will join them for this event and share the message of gratitude.
Cardinal Pacelli students in the audience with poppies and flags

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