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Barnum Woods honors vets in 14th ceremony

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Barnum Woods Elementary School in the East Meadow School District conducted its 14th annual Veterans Day ceremony on Nov. 8. The event was organized by Elena Maria DiCocco’s fifth grade class and is a tradition in the Barnum Woods community.

“I strongly feel that the children should meet the true heroes of this country and know that they are surrounded by them every day,” DiCocco said of the time-honored event. “It’s important that they respect and honor our veterans and active service men and women. I hope this ceremony stays with them for the rest of their lives.”

Small gestures of appreciation set the tone for the ceremony. Students handed out “buddy poppies” — small pins created by disabled veterans — to attendees. A photo collage of veterans was on display, and among those pictured were Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kenneth A. Card Jr., who served in the U.S. Navy, and Barnum Woods school psychologist Leanne Bonnet, who served in the U.S. Army.

The moving ceremony began with a procession of veterans and students to the song “God Bless the USA.” As the veterans approached the stage, fourth grader Vithal Gangakhedkar handed each of them a poppy flower to thank them for their service.

Student Council President Minyoung Kim led the Pledge of Allegiance with the help of representatives Avya Catano and Sean Schettino. Barnum Woods Principal Gregory Bottari then welcomed attendees, followed by a reading on the origin of Veterans Day by fourth grader Matthew David.

Highlighting the event, veterans spoke to all in attendance about their experiences in serving the country. The ceremony concluded with a dedication of the song “Hero” by Mariah Carey and a presentation of gifts to the veterans.

—Brian Stieglitz