The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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November 10, 2013

PERSONS OF THE WEEK | Students serve up ‘thank you’ to those who served U.S.

JOHNSTOWN — East Side Elementary School in Johnstown honored veterans Thursday during its 15th annual Veterans Day Breakfast.

Leading the program for the school were youngsters in the gifted and fifth-grade reading classes of teacher Beckie Pearson.

Pupils recited the Pledge of Allegiance and presented their “Honor the Veterans” program. The program included a skit in which two students dressed as Uncle Sam, one as Betsy Ross and one as the Statue of Liberty.

There were various speakers from the school and community. Breakfast was served, compliments of Nutrition Inc., the school district’s food-service provider.

Shantia Jordan-Bradley, a student, said participating in the program gave her the chance to praise and honor the devotion and sacrifices veterans made for our nation.

Another student, Dixie Foutz, said it was important to hold the event because veterans did so much for this country. They are important because without them, we wouldn’t be free, she said.

Myra Bush, a student, said the veterans put our country first. They put their lives on the line so that we can have rights, she said.

Student Lance McConnell said the veterans are the superheroes of the whole world. They helped to give us a free education, and East Side is the best school ever, he said.

Anthony Sanders, a student, said that when he grows up, he wants to be in the military so that he can have the power to keep this country free, clean and safe for his loved ones.

Student Ian Kirby said it was important to hold the event to honor veterans for serving our country and giving us freedom to speak as we want.

For their efforts with the event, the six students are the Persons of the Week.

All the students in Pearson’s classes were instrumental in the event. The remainder are Sophia Betts, Cassidy Carthew, Cameron Farkas, Griffin Gagan, Ayanna Gibson, Elaina Grosik, Emily Hoffman, Anneesa King, Anastazia Lightfoot, Leah Mikeasky, Eddy Niessner, Michael Short, Emma Stuart, Romeo Campbell, Decklin March, Tyler Williams, Nathan Lenhart and Evan Williams.

Pearson said all the children worked hard on the program because it was important for them to honor the veterans.

Preparing for the program and writing the essays have given them greater insight into what veterans have sacrificed in order for them to have the freedoms and rights that they have, she said.

They now seem to realize that their freedom was not free and that someone had to pay the price for that freedom, she said.

Ed Wojnaroski Sr., chairman of Conemaugh Valley Veterans, said the event meant a tremendous amount to the veterans.

“One of the things that struck me was that when they (students) left the stage, they spent time and shook hands with all the veterans,” he said.

“That was a precious moment.”

Greater Johnstown school board President Richard Unger said Pearson and the students did a great job.

“I think Beckie Pearson is an exceptional teacher,” Unger said.

Pearson measures her work by the good results that she receives with the students and not by the time she puts into the program, Unger said.

The school could not have asked for a better group of students to lead the program, he said.

Frank Sojak is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/FrankNews10. Tribune-Democrat editors select a Person of the Week from nominations made by readers. To nominate someone, call 532-5058, 24 hours a day.

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