Oak Hill Academy Continues Tradition Of Honoring Veterans
On November 9th, Oak Hill Academy students, staff, and parents honored veterans during the school’s 22nd annual Veterans Day program. Over 100 students in Pre-Kindergarten through 8th grade performed by creating various tributes, doing dramatic readings, choreographing dance ensembles, singing, and playing instruments in the 2.5 hour production. A professional brass duo, and the Christian Brothers Academy Pipes and Drums also performed.
Patrice Murray, Director of Personnel/Administration, organized the annual program. Each year, she chooses a theme that will educate the students on a different aspect relating to the service of our veterans.
This year, the themes were “Marine Corps Birthday”, “Iwo Jima”, “Hello Girls,” and “Military Service Dogs,” amongst the traditionalcore themes of “Who is a Veteran,” and the “History of Veterans Day”.
Started in November of 2001 after the tragic events of September 11, Miss Murray stated that “we (as a school) decided to recognize and honor those in the military who fought, and are still fighting, for our freedom and protection.”
Oak Hill Academy was honored to have Private First Class, Tom Harrington, United States Marine Corps (retired) and his service dog, Boomer, American VetDogs as its first guest speaker. The audience was treated to an additional honored guest, Command Master Chief (SEAL), Stephen “Mato” Matulewicz, United States Navy (retired) speak as well. His message of teamwork, hard work and overcoming obstacles resonated with the students.
The United States Marine Corp Color Guard, Combat Logistic Battalion 25, 4th Marine Logistics Group presented the colors at the opening of the program, with the Pre-Kindergarten leading the school in the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance followed by the Kindergarten leading the singing of “God Bless America”. The “Star Spangled Banner” was performed by third grader teacher, Mrs. Amanda DiDomenico accompanied on guitar by her husband, Mr. Tim DiDomenico.
Student readers defined who was a veteran and briefly outlined the history of Veterans Day.
Our multitalented students and staff once again amazed those in the audience. The Oak Hill Chorus performed “Shenandoah” (arranged by Andrew Para) under the direction of Miss Hannah Dittloff; the Upper School Dance Ensemble, with 8th graders Jessica Gallagher and Sophia Chubatyy,performed their rendition of “Rise up” (by Andra Day) performed by the under the direction of Mrs. Bridget DeVivo. Miss Dittloff’s Oak Hill Academy Players performed “America the Beautiful” (by Kristine Johanek) on hand chimes; 7th grader, Andie Sparano, played both “Milonga Del Angel” (Astor Piazzolla) and Tarantella” (Pieczonka) on the piano; Christopher Pollak, 4th grade, performed a contempory dance solo to Tyler Wand’s “Born in the USA”; while 8th grade soloist, Luli Mitchell, gave her own interpretation of Aurora’s “Runaway”. Computer teacher, Mrs. Marie Geroni, created a slide show that had pictures and video that corresponded with each of the themes throughout the entire program.
Continuing to impress in the dramatic arts, students explained two significant stories from World War I and World War II.
The importance and story of the “Hello Girls” was brought to the forefront. In 1918, 223 American women who had the ability to speak French and translate, were sent to France and England by General Pershing to help the wartime communications during World War I. A skit depicting the telephone switchboard operators interacting with a French Field Commander included dialogue in French and then being translated into English. 8th graders Henry Griffith, Caroline Kaytan, Maya Baszak, Sienna DeAngelis, Maeve Horowitz and French teacher Ms. Claire Allistone were all part telling the story of the “Hello Girls.”
The students reenacted the famous photograph of raising the American Flag at Iwo Jima, as well as a history lesson on who was involved and why the island of Iwo Jima was so significant to the United States. 8th graders Christopher Quincannon, Will Grier, John McNamara, Dimtrios Giannakopoulos, David Seetoo and Michael Engle took on the persona of each Marine who had a part in raising the flag.
Veterans who were in attendance were recognized throughout the program. As each veteran arrived, they were given pins to wear signifying their service to their country. OHA students and staff had submitted the names of veterans in their families. As 8th grader Andrei Mitchell played arrangements from Beethoven on the piano, the list of names was scrolling up on the 20-foot screen on the stage.
The CBA Pipes and Drums, led by Brother Frank Byrne, former President of CBA, marched in with bagpipes and drums.
As the brass duo of Mrs. Janet and Mr. Tom Bender accompanied by 8th grader Andrei Mitchell on piano, played the “Armed Forces Medley,” where the five service branch (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard) songs are played,
The veterans in the audience stood for their branch’s song. The audience gave a rousing applause to each group of veterans that stood for their song.
The playing of “Taps” along with a moment of silence concluded the program.
Head of School, Joseph A. Pacelli, a US Army veteran, stated that the Veterans Day program has become an important tradition at Oak Hill Academy. The youngest generation is learning about all of our veterans and the greatest generation, too. They have learned to honor, respect and revere those in uniform.
Oak Hill Academy is a NJ private school that is co-educational, independent, nonsectarian, and nonprofit for grades pre-kindergarten through eight. Oak Hill Academy is dedicated to a traditional, challenging, and caring learning environment that encourages comprehensive thought processes and deep understandings; thus promoting the wholesome intellectual, emotional, moral, and physical lifetime growth of our students. If you want to learn more about what makes Oak Hill Academy one of the best private school in NJ, visit us online at www.oakhillacademy.com , or subscribe to our mailing list to be notified when we post more topics.