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Charter Oak International Academy Welcomes and Honors Veterans

Students in Stephanie Rojas' first-grade class perform the "Poppy, Poppy Song." Veterans Day Ceremony at Charter Oak International Academy. Nov. 12, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

On the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day, peace was the theme of the annual Veterans Day ceremony at West Hartford’s Charter Oak International Academy.

Members of the 103rd Airlift Honor Guard raise the flag. Veterans Day Ceremony at Charter Oak International Academy. Nov. 12, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

By Ronni Newton

The entire Charter Oak International Academy community gathered in the auditorium Monday morning, for the special ceremony the school holds annually to honor veterans.

“Veterans Day is a day to show appreciation to those who have served in our military and are still living,” said Christina Griffin, a fifth-grade student who had the honor of giving the welcome and salute. She singled out her uncle, Neil, who was in attendance and thanked him for his service and for coming to Charter Oak for the past 10 years to share his stories with the community.

“Our ceremony this morning is to pay tribute and show appreciation to our veterans for their brave service protecting our country,” Christina said. “Our message today is to let all veterans know that we appreciate them for the sacrifices they have made and the bravery that they have shown to protect our freedom and to bring peace.”

West Hartford Public Schools and town officials joined the Charter Oak community in paying tribute, with many veterans joining the student speakers on the stage for the ceremony.

Student Diego Sotomayor gave the audience a bit of history of Veterans Day – which was originally called Armistice Day and focused on celebrating world peace. It was changed in 1954 by President Eisenhower, he said. This year is the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day.

A group of students from all grades provided personal remarks, using their own words about how they help bring peace. 

“I help bring peace when I write my daddy a letter in Kuwait,” said one girl.

Other students used examples from everyday life like: when they complete their  homework, try their best to respect everyone, help people who are in need of love, support their friends when they are upset, are kind, listen to other people’s opinions, help their parents, set a good example, clean up the earth, and give others compliments.

Student Jacob Elescano read the poem “All the Brave Soldiers,” and Stephanie Rojas’ first-grade class sang the “Poppy, Poppy Song.”

The message of peace was conveyed through the reading of “The Paper Dove” poem by Finley Valentine, followed by Juliana Farquharson and Nora Mohtasham presenting two paper doves to the audience as a symbol of peace.

While the ceremony was technically held inside, the wall of windows to the courtyard was opened for the raising of the flag and stayed open while SFC Juan Cruz sang the National Anthem. The windows opened once more, as students Yanedsi Alva, Caleb Campbell, and Samantha Warren processed to the flagpole – laying a memorial wreath at its base, and grasping each others hands as they returned to the auditorium.

Patrick Whalen began the ceremony with a bagpipe processional, and the somber notes of “Taps” sounded as the ceremony came to an end.

Veterans, families, and other guests remained at Charter Oak after the ceremony and enjoyed a special breakfast.

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Veterans on stage at the Veterans Day Ceremony at Charter Oak International Academy. Nov. 12, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Veterans Day Ceremony at Charter Oak International Academy. Nov. 12, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Members of the 103rd Airlift Honor Guard raise the flag. Veterans Day Ceremony at Charter Oak International Academy. Nov. 12, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Veterans Day Ceremony at Charter Oak International Academy. Nov. 12, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Veterans Day Ceremony at Charter Oak International Academy. Nov. 12, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

SFC Juan Cruz sings the National Anthem. Veterans Day Ceremony at Charter Oak International Academy. Nov. 12, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Emcee Christina Griffin welcomed the audience and led a salute to veterans and soldiers. Veterans Day Ceremony at Charter Oak International Academy. Nov. 12, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Diego Sotomayor shares the history of Veterans Day. Veterans Day Ceremony at Charter Oak International Academy. Nov. 12, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Program organizer Janet Fournier assists a student speaker at the Veterans Day Ceremony at Charter Oak International Academy. Nov. 12, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Program organizer Janet Fournier assists a student speaker at the Veterans Day Ceremony at Charter Oak International Academy. Nov. 12, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Veterans Day Ceremony at Charter Oak International Academy. Nov. 12, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Program organizer Janet Fournier assists a student speaker at the Veterans Day Ceremony at Charter Oak International Academy. Nov. 12, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Program organizer Janet Fournier assists a student speaker at the Veterans Day Ceremony at Charter Oak International Academy. Nov. 12, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Students in Stephanie Rojas’ first-grade class perform the “Poppy, Poppy Song.” Veterans Day Ceremony at Charter Oak International Academy. Nov. 12, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Finley Valentine speaks about “The Paper Dove.” Veterans Day Ceremony at Charter Oak International Academy. Nov. 12, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Juliana Farquharson (left) and Nora Mohtasham present “A Symbol of Peace.” Veterans Day Ceremony at Charter Oak International Academy. Nov. 12, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Students prepare to lay the memorial wreath at the base of the flagpole in the courtyard. Veterans Day Ceremony at Charter Oak International Academy. Nov. 12, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Students prepare to lay the memorial wreath at the base of the flagpole in the courtyard. Veterans Day Ceremony at Charter Oak International Academy. Nov. 12, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Samantha Warren, Caleb Campbell, and Yanedsi Alva hold hands after laying the memorial wreath at the base of the flagpole. Veterans Day Ceremony at Charter Oak International Academy. Nov. 12, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Veterans Day Ceremony at Charter Oak International Academy. Nov. 12, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Student participants in the assembly Veterans Day Ceremony at Charter Oak International Academy. Nov. 12, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Veterans on stage. Veterans Day Ceremony at Charter Oak International Academy. Nov. 12, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

“Taps” ends the ceremony. Veterans Day Ceremony at Charter Oak International Academy. Nov. 12, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

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