Veterans tell their stories at Holy Rosary SchoolAbout 280 other students from kindergarten through eighth grade gathered to listen to two speakers talk about why Veterans Day is an important American celebration.
By: Thomas Vaughn, for the Budgeteer
Eighth-grader John Kroska brought some inside information to the Veterans Day school assembly he attended on Friday, Nov. 9. A student at Holy Rosary School, where the assembly took place, Kroska said that stories told to him by his grandfather and father stirred his interest both in military history and current operations. Kroska also plans to participate in the 2013 National History Day competition with a submission about military history.
“I’m very much interested in war history and history about veterans and flight technology changes — how it has advanced and what it was like in the past — everything I’ve been learning has just been great.”
Kroska and about 280 other students, from kindergarten through eighth grade, gathered to listen to two speakers talk about why Veterans Day is an important American celebration. Cmdr. Col. Penny Dieryck and Lt. Col. Kevin Stephan of the 148th Fighter Wing Mission Support Group talked about their experiences as active duty service personnel.
Dieryck talked about her first experience flying in an airplane — out of Duluth for basic training. She admitted that leaving her family was a fearful experience at first. After two weeks, she said, she started developing the internal strength that all soldiers must have for duty, and that led to continued success in the military. Stephan, a physician at EssentiaHealth, practices internal medicine with the 148th. He spoke about how military personnel also serve in humanitarian roles, as he has done in Honduras, El Salvador and other countries.
“I liked their presentation because it honored our soldiers that have fought for our country and we wouldn’t have our freedom today if it weren’t for them,” said Jackie Black, a sixth-grader who is in the process of learning about the Women Airforce Services Pilots (WASPs) as a potential topic for her 2013 National History Day project. “I thought it was really nice that they would take the time out of their day to come to our school and teach us.”
Holy Rosary School faculty prepared all students academically for the event at every grade level. Deb Stephan advised faculty members
in her role as the Global and Linguistic Studies specialist.
“We studied Veterans Day itself,” Stephan said. “We talked about service to country and we made the connection about the importance of veterans and military personnel in helping protect our freedoms for things like voting this past week as well.”
According to kindergarten teacher Sue Weber, the presentation offers something to all students — even those in her classroom.
“We learn about the red, white and blue and what the colors mean and we talk about the flag,” Weber said. “We say the Pledge of Allegiance every day too so the kids are looking forward to the assembly because they get visual cues — they can see the uniforms and hear some patriotic songs — concrete things to complement classroom learning.”
Principal Jesse Murray said that the assembly offered every student an opportunity to get closer to the Veterans Day message of selflessness by meeting Dieryck and Stephan, living role models of that service.
“Every time we have an opportunity to connect to who someone is, and understand how that person makes a difference in society, is an opportunity to experience how someone models the attitude of service that we try to teach here at Holy Rosary — hearing from these people, who have put their own families aside and sacrifice their time and put their lives at risk, is part of connecting classroom-learning to real understanding.”