BRADFORD — “Welcome to our classroom,” Tina Schmitz said, to the guests in attendance for a special Veterans Day celebration in her resource room Friday, November 17.
Schmitz is an Intervention Specialist at Bradford Schools, who works with her students and relates the learning to real-life situations, by teaching functional life skills. Her first, second and fifth-graders, had a special luncheon and presentation for two veterans on staff: Junior High math and language arts teacher Angie Szary and High School math teacher Rocco Latino, who both served in the U.S. Air Force. Szary served in the U.S. Air Force from 1993-1999.
“This is so sweet,” she said of the luncheon. “I don’t feel I have done anything super special.”
During the presentation she showed students some photos of her time serving in the Air Force.
“This is when I graduated from my school,” she said. “This is a tech school, where I learned how to do my job. This is the bed I had to sleep on, and the little space I had to share with someone else. We had bunk beds that we had to make really nice and neat everyday.”
Latino served in the U.S. Air Force 20 years. He explained one of his duties as being a gas station in the air.
“I flew in a plane called a tanker,” he said. “In flight, another airplane would come up behind us and we gave them fuel while we were flying along at 400 miles per hour. The fighter or the bomber could get home or go on his mission, because we re-fueled other aircraft in air. It is like you driving down the road in your car, and a truck going by and giving you gas while you are driving.”
“Were their snacks?” a student asked.
“Yes, we took food with us because some of the missions were very long,” Latino said.
The class helped prepare the lunch, consisting of hot dogs, fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, fruit salad, chips, drinks and a red, white and blue cake. In addition, students each were assigned a topic to present to the audience. They started the presentation by reciting the “Pledge of Allegiance” in sign language. The presentation was given twice, to accommodate the number of guests that attended throughout the morning.
“Loud and proud,” Schmitz said as she encouraged each student to speak.
The students read research about the following branches of the U.S. military: Navy, Army, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard. Their research included the numbers of men and women within each branch, how they are trained, the anthems of the branches, the mottoes, job opportunities and photos of the uniforms.
Other presented topics included: Veterans Day, the American flag and Francis Scott Key, author of the lyrics to “The Star-Spangled Banner”. Students gave facts about what the stars and strips represent on the flag, what inspired Key to write his lyrics and the history of Veterans Day. Those in attendance included: Elementary Principal Michelle Lavey, Secondary Principal Matt Triplett, Superintendent Joe Hurst and other teachers and staff members.
Schmitz asked the students what people can do to honor veterans on Veterans Day.
One student said, “We can give them a hug, make a party for them and honor them.”