Pleasant Valley High School honors veterans during program
LINDA KOEHLER/TIMES NEWS Left to right, Pleasant Valley students of Mark Tramontina, Kayla Martins, junior, Katilyn Perrotta, junior, Lauren Mundy, junior, Marcus Lamar, junior, Ardian Komoni, junior, Erin Strand, junior, Frank Viscardi, senior and Ashley Flugel, junior, greeted the service men and women as they entered the school and then escorted them to the Veterans Day program being held in the gym throughout the day. They also encouraged students to stop at the table and create a Christmas card to be sent to those serving overseas. Standing, PFC Larissa Lopez, a PVHS 2010 graduate, is currently serving in the U.S. Army Reserves and is ready to talk to the kids. Her advice to them was to go to college and join R.O.T.C.
For 15 years, Pleasant Valley High School social studies teacher, Mark Tramontina, has been coordinating a Veterans Day program to thank veterans for serving and to help the students understand the importance of doing so.
With the help of his wife, Monica, a PVHS paraprofessional, and his social studies students, they coordinate area veterans to come speak and organizations are invited to display military memorabilia and information in the PVHS gym.
In the opening ceremony, an Honor Guard of students in various borrowed military garb, brought in the American flag to music by the PVHS band, led by James DeVivo, band director.
PVHS principal John Gress welcomed everyone and said that the date of 11/11/11 was a significant day.
He added that in his 35 years at PV, he has proudly known many students who have served in the armed services and was honored to recognize them.
"We should never forget those who have sacrificed. They are there for us so we can live the life of freedom. They are our heroes."
He thanked the Tramontinas and all those who brought the program to the school.
Suban Ashfaq, a PVHS junior, was the MC and gave a brief history of Veterans Day.
Students Courtney Clark and Marc Anthony sang a duet of the stirring song, "Cry America Tears."
Mike Smith, Bob Smith and Ken Smith of the United States Submarine Veterans, Inc., Pocono Base, were present with scale model of a submarine.
Mike Smith told the audience that every month the organization has a ceremony to remember those who lost their lives while serving on a submarine, with the tolling of a bell. He then read off a list of those lost in service for the month of November to the tolls of a bell.
Commander Tom Franklin of the American Legion Post 927 in Gilbert said he served in the United States Air Force from 1968-1972 and was proud to be a veteran.
Frank Guercia of Effort, served in the U.S. Army and was in Vietnam in 1967-68.
"It was a tough time, just like it was for those who fought in WW I and WW II. There are still 776 MIAs still unaccounted for," he said.
In closing, he said, "When you see the American flag, respect it and honor our veterans."
Amanda Sanchez sang a soulful "America the Beautiful" accompanied by Stephen Moss on the guitar. She dedicated it to her uncle, a Vietnam veteran who passed away two years ago.
Patricia Gosselin's father fought in the Korean War. A PV '91 graduate, Pat served in the U.S. Army for four years and was a Korean linguist. She traveled all over the world.
Today she is a math teacher at PVHS and she told the students that if they were not sure of what they wanted to do after high school, she encouraged them to take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test.
"It might help guide you in what courses to take in school," she said.
Two of her students stood next to her in military uniforms.
Joe Gallagher, currently serving in the U.S. Marine Corps and Revonna Fenstermaker, who is a split PV student and also an enlisted Army soldier.
After the ceremony, the students and staff visited several of the displays throughout the gym, such as U.S. Marine Corps and Army recruiters, the American Legion Post 927 in Gilbert, the United States Submarine Veterans, Inc., Remembering Vietnam Vets and more.
PV junior Suban Ashfaq said he thinks a program like this helps students realize how much we need to appreciate our veterans.
Amanda Gallup, 11th grade, said "I think it opens our eyes. It helps us have respect for what people are doing for us."
Juliana Ledesma, a junior, said, "It's important to remember those who served our country."