This Veteran’s Day, fifth and sixth grade students at Ricardo Richards Elementary School have a better understanding of why there is a special holiday to commemorate and honor people who have served their country in the military.
Members of the Enrique Romero Nieves American Legion Post 102 sponsored an essay and poster contest on “What is a Veteran?” as part of activities leading up to the holiday.
Annie Day Henry, commander of Post 102, said the American Legion is an advocate and supporter of veterans so post members felt it appropriate for students to do research and talk to family members about what is a veteran.
“This project truly reflects that you all understand who we are,” Henry said after reading the essays. “I am overwhelmed with joy.”
Friday, dignitaries from Post 102 gave awards and prizes to the top three winners. Other participants earned a certificate and received a U.S. flag.
Sadejah Charles, a sixth-grade student, earned first place for her essay. Jahsai Rosario, a fifth-grade student, took second for his large poster and Vivica Edwards, also a sixth grader, was third-place winner for her small poster.
“My family members served in the military and were an inspiration for my essay,” Charles said. “I talked to people and did research. I found veterans have done so much for us.”
She wrote she was proud to have brave people work hard and sacrifice for her freedom.
Rosario made his poster with pictures of all of his family members in uniform. The pictures went back as far as his great grandfathers and great uncles. His mother Melisa Rosario is serving in the Navy.
“I had fun working on this project and looking for pictures of my family in uniform,” Rosario says.
Edwards said she was impressed with the soldiers from the V.I. National Guard who come to Ricardo Richards and do the Coole School projects, so her focus was on them. VING Counterdrug Task Force sponsors the Safe & Drug Free Coole School Program.
Principal Colleen Williams said the students were excited and took the contest seriously.
“The students really enjoyed the contest and took it to task,” Williams said. Guidance counselor Betina Lacroque pitched the contest to the students in September, and National Guardsmen did the judging. Charles got a $50 gift-certificate from Office Max, Rosario won a $30 certificate and Edwards got a $25 gift-certificate.
Henry said as a post project the members and auxiliary adopted Ricardo Richards School.
“Our goal is to teach children to be good citizens and to understand the value of their rights and freedom,” Henry said, adding that the Legionnaires are teaching youngsters about Americanism, courage, honor, leadership, patriotism, scholarship and service. Friday the sixth-grade students saw a video titled “What is a Veteran?”
The Legion adopted the school the beginning of this school year. They are working to provide items on a wish list that was put together by school administrators and teachers.
Friday, Sen. Sammuel Sanes, a Legion member, and Secoundino Cruz, Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands area vice commander, wheeled in five huge black trash cans. They presented the cans and boxes of trash can liners to Principal Williams.
Legionnaires have fixed up the bulletin board at the school entrance and they are getting 30 new chairs for the fourth and sixth grade class rooms.
“We are very grateful that the American Legion has come in to help improve the climate and culture here at Ricardo Richards,” Williams said. “We are so happy to get the trash cans. Our campus is big, and this will make it much easier to keep the school clean.”
“It is very important that the American Legion provides for the youth,” Henry said. “They are the leaders of tomorrow.”
She added she hopes some of the students gathered at the awards ceremony will be leaders in the American Legion some day.