On Friday, November 9, the school community at Glen Hills Elementary School honored veterans for the upcoming Veterans Day holiday and shown a special spotlight on the veterans in their own community. Glen Hills welcomed special honored guests, veterans from within their school community including family members, friends, and neighbors as well as Glen Hills School employees. Glen Hills custodian Michael Vallesi was a guest at the event along with his wife Jeannine. Vallesi served from 1985 to 2009 in the RI Air National Guard.
Additionally, Glen Hills School partnered with both Western Hills Middle School and Cranston High School East in order to make the day an extra-special one. The WHMS band played the Star Spangled Banner during the raising of a new flag on the in front of the school, and CHSE JROTC students Eric Testa, Chenda Rivera, Aaron Mickelson, and Geryl Vargas performed the flag raising ceremony under the direction of JROTC instructor Sgt. Major Gerry Thifault.
The day began with a special gathering for the honored veterans, which included light refreshments and photos together with friends and family. Each veteran was presented with a special certificate of appreciation for their service upon their arrival at the school that morning. The group included men and women representing every branch of the military and included Frank Kay, a 92-year-old World War II veteran of the Air Force. Kay was the guest of Ellery Shugrue, a second-grade student at the school who is also Kay’s neighbor.
Principal Jay DeCristofaro spoke to the veterans before everyone headed outside for the larger ceremony.
“I know you hear it a lot, but you probably don’t hear it enough, how much the people of this country appreciate your sacrifice for our freedom and for our country at large,” he said. “The students will be outside in a little bit and they’ll all be carrying flags. They’re becoming very aware as of today, if not before, how important it is to have people in our nation give up their time and some time in their lives to help protect us and keep us strong as a country. It’s really good for these youngsters to understand that.”
Sandra Ensey, a 30-year veteran of the navy thanked Cristofaro and his staff for teaching the students about Veterans Day and the importance of the sacrifice and service undertaken by veterans.
“I wanted to let you know, this is no small thing,” she said. “As veterans, we appreciate you teaching the children.”
Ensey was the guest of grandson Rhys Larsen, who is a kindergarten student at Glen Hills.
As the students gathered outside for the ceremonial raising of the flag and the playing of the Star Spangled Banner, a round of applause was given for the veterans present that day. Kay could be seen saluting the flag as the music played and the flag was raised. When asked how he enjoyed his morning, he was happy.
“I enjoyed it very much, he said. I always enjoy these events very much.”