HOWELL – Students and staff of the Aldrich Elementary School paid tribute to veterans and their guests during the 16th Annual Veterans Appreciation Assembly.
The day began with students honoring their special guests with a breakfast in the media center. The food was donated by local merchants.
A special assembly program followed afterward which the presentation of colors by the Howell Township Police Honor Guard Unit and the Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts of Aldrich School.
A marching drill demonstration was presented by the Colts Neck High School Navy Junior R.O.T.C. Cadets. There were also student readers, and several patriotic songs were performed by the students and staff of the school.
Bagpipe music was heard and taps was played, and there was a presentation of special veteran and patriotic-themed videos.
“We love doing this and it has been going on for 16 years now and has been a very successful day and it is meaningful for the veterans and for the students as well,” Aldrich Principal Drew Smith said.
Smith added that the school’s staff greatly supports the event and works to involve the 430 students at the school. Aldrich Elementary School previously had a kindergarten class but currently has 3rd, 4th and 5th grade students.
Last year the event drew more than 60 local veterans who attended the ceremony and that number was equaled this year if not surpassed.
“We start the day off with the breakfast for the veterans and we receive support from businesses like Applebees, Chick Fil-A and Dunkin Donuts who help us with that,” Smith said.
“I’ve been watching it each year since I got here in 2001. After the breakfast the veterans listen to some short presentations by the students, some involve songs, videos from each class,” he said.
Aldrich School was adorned with red, white and blue “Thank you”-themed student decorations as well as with pictures and biographies of the veterans who attended the program. “It was very nicely decorated this year,” Smith said.
Each veteran and family member in attendance received a copy of the assembly program and a collection of student writing as a keepsake.
Smith said the students take great pride in honoring the brave men and women who have served, or are currently serving in, the United States Armed Forces.
“Some people ask why we do this in December and not in November around Veterans’ Day but many veterans are busy at that time and we have a lot of things going on at the same time in the school and this allows us a nice time just before the holidays to honor the veterans with a special event,” Smith said.