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Wednesday May 25, 2016 at 2:12pm Age: 3 yrs
Category: District, Intermediate


Mrs. Marcolina’s 5th grade class hosted eleven U.S. veterans to honor and celebrate their service to the country with a ceremony and brunch on Tuesday, May 24. 


Mrs. Marcolina has been organizing this annual event and inviting veterans from across Orange County to it for twenty two years. This year’s fifth grade class began preparing for the veterans visit eight weeks ago.  Students were divided into fifteen committees, each with its own chair person, and assigned different responsibilities for the ceremony.


“I love spending time with people who have served our country. They are special people and truly deserve to be celebrated,” said fifth grader Gregory Furman who was allowed to wear his Boy Scouts uniform to class that day.


The students presented the veterans with letters, poems, drawings, and musical performances, as well as a food drive to benefit soldiers and families served by Castle Point Veterans Hospital. The veterans shared their service stories, ranging from the rigors of active duty and wartime hardships to humorous training experiences, and passed around wartime photo albums and memorabilia.


A recurring theme was the idea that in the service, what needs doing is everyone’s job. “In the service you help everybody out and you stay until the job is done,” said Art Olah who served in the U.S. Airforce between 1972-76, first as a jet-engine mechanic and later as crew chief of a T-38 jet.


Four of the veterans have grandchildren in Mrs. Marcolina’s class. Two others are Minisink Valley graduates. A group with the American Legion George Smith Post #1607 in Unionville presented the class with paper American flags and memorial poppies, and Mrs. Marcolina with a triangular flag case in recognition for her long-standing efforts to acknowledge local veterans. Also represented was the Greenville Veterans of Foreign Wars Post # 3175.


“I grew up in Minisink Valley during the Vietnam war. Everyone in this small, farming community was close to someone fighting in Vietnam. Two of the veterans here today were my high school peers and were drafted after graduation. My heart has always been tuned to the sacrifices of our service men and women, and I think it’s important to teach our children and youth that our freedom comes at a price,” said Mrs. Marcolina.


Parents helped the class prepare brunch and decorate the hallway and classroom for the occasion with patriotic themes. Family members, school administrators and staff were also in attendance.


Honored veterans were Art Olah, Ken Balzano, Nick Solimando, Frank Lamando, Ronnie Aiello, John Clausen, Thomas Hauck, Russell Jung, Joseph Giannoccora, Joe Heron and Michael Olivari.