Veterans Speak to Students

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Veterans Speak to Students
Assembly Teaches Students About The Military
By Emily Knitter


   Local veterans hosted a school-wide assembly at Franklinville Central School November 7 for more than 400 Pre-Kindergarten through 6th grade students to celebrate Veteran’s Day, with an emphasis on the diversity of career experiences available to anyone in service.

   Students from the Saint Bonaventure University Student Veterans of America (SVA) club chapter and the Reserve Officer’s Training Corps (ROTC), along with the Franklinville Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9487 all participated by sharing their own stories and interacting with the children to show that veterans are friendly, regular people, just like them.

   As the kids filed into the gymnasium, they were each handed a small American flag. Before long, the bleachers were filled with hundreds of waving flags and the sound of young children chattering. As elementary school Principal Jessica Schirrmacher-Smith took the microphone, silence fell as she introduced the veterans standing before them.

   Alex Thompson, whose daughter, Zelda, is a Kindergartener at the school, acted as the main speaker throughout the assembly.

   “Who here knows what a veteran is?” Thompson asked the students. Hands shot up throughout the crowd. “There are lots of veterans in our country, 22 million,” he continued. “That means if you see 10 adults, there is a chance that one of them used to be in the military.”

   Throughout the presentation, he spoke about what it means when someone is called a veteran, the different branches of the military, and the multitude of jobs available within the service.

   Cadets from the ROTC program demonstrated a proper military salute and asked the children to try it out. The students then learned the proper customs and courtesies that come with handling a flag and how to show respect when it is displayed. After a pause for a question and answer session, Cadet Michael Rickicki taught everyone how to march and sang a cadence as they were doing so.

   As a culmination for the presentation, the entire school exited the building and lined up along on the bus route and placed their flags next to the sidewalk as a reminder throughout the week about the holiday being celebrated.

   The event was as invigorating for the veterans as it was for the students.

   “When a group of Beterans come together to share their experiences, it’s a pretty powerful thing,” said Rob Petruccello, an SVA member and SBU student. “I was surprised with how many kids were excited to tell me that their parents or grandparents served in the military. I could tell that they were proud of them.”

   This event was one way that the student veterans of SBU are reaching out within the local community to help shine a positive light on the local veteran population and contribute to the community where they can.

   If you’re a veteran, or supporter, and are interested in becoming involved with the program or considering returning to college, contact the director of veteran services at SBU, Frank Morales, at (716) 375-2105 for more information.