On December 13th, a group of six Oak Hill Academy students were invited to perform at the Wreaths Across America Gala in Arlington, VA on the eve of the annual laying of wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery. Miss Patrice Murray, Director of Personnel/Administration and Mrs. Bridget DeVivo, Drama teacher, accompanied the students and their families to Virginia.
Oak Hill received the invitation to perform due to fact the WAA convoy had stopped at Oak Hill in December 2018 and were impressed with the talented students at Oak Hill and the quality of the program that was produced that day!
What is Wreaths Across America?
Wreaths Across America was founded in 1992 by Morrill Worcester, owner of the Worcester Wreath Company. Worcester and his wife, Karen have made it their mission to honor our nation’s veterans by placing over a million wreaths on the graves of our bravest throughout our country and even in Normandy, France. Since that time, Wreaths Across America has made their annual pilgrimage to Arlington National Cemetery. Nearly 100,000 volunteers come each year to help place the wreaths at Arlington. Many trucking companies donate the trucks and drivers to make the annual week long convoy from Maine to Virginia.
To honor our veterans past and present, the OHA students started with World War I by playing “In Flanders Field” on cello, by seventh grader Leena Mirchandani and the poem was narrated by eighth grader Isabella Cantalupo. Caitlin Shallcross, an eighth grade student spoke of the bravery that our soldiers faced with the Vietnam War. This introduction led to the play,”The Wall.”
Bridget DeVivo adapted the play from the book, The Wall, by Eve Bunting. It depicts a mother and young daughter visiting the Vietnam Wall, but is being narrated by a grown-up version of the young child. 1st grader Darcie DeVivo, and sixth graders Georgia Attardi and Kate Schweikert performed in the drama piece.
Nearly 900 people were in attendance at the Wreaths Across America Gala. Guests included a Medal of Honor recipient, Gold Star families, active duty military, veterans, trucking companies, law enforcement, sponsors of WAA and the volunteers who make this endeavor a reality.
Oak Hill Academy was very appreciative of the opportunity to be involved in such a prestigious event. Two days prior, on December 11th, OHA was invited by WAA to perform at the Vietnam Veterans Museum in Holmdel. Our six students performed “In Flanders Fields” and “The Wall.” 26 additional OHA students participated in honoring the Gold Star families by presenting ceremonial wreaths to each family.
Arlington National Cemetery
Some more experiences from our trip to Washington D.C.
- NJ Vietnam Veterans Memorial (Holmdel, NJ)
- The Cantalupo family helps to place wreaths – https://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/474573-thousands-of-volunteers-turn-out-to-lay-wreaths-at-arlington
- Wreaths Across America Official Facebook Page We are in the beginning, after the emcee from 14:00-21:00. Also, Wayne Hanson the Chairman of the Board mentioned OHA at the end of his speech 35:00-36:00.
Oak Hill continues to support veterans
Oak Hill Academy has a deep appreciation for our veterans and their service. It is made evident each year in our annual Veterans Day program which honors our veterans and teaches our students the historical background to so many events in our military history. Patrice Murray started this annual program after the events of 9/11 in 2001. Each year, Murray chooses a few themes to highlight to make the students aware of a wide range of topics related to our military. The annual program usually has close to 100 students participating in the 2+ hour assembly. The Wreaths Across America mantra is “Remember, Honor, Teach”. Remember the fallen, Honor those who serve and Teach the children. Oak Hill Academy is proud to be following in WAA’s footsteps and teaching our students the value and cost of freedom.