Mettawee students thank veterans for their service

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WEST PAWLET — Some 40 veterans, representing all five branches of the United States military, were honored with food, songs, speeches and personal conversations with the entire Mettawee student body on Friday, Nov. 8, during the Mettawee Community School Veterans Breakfast.

The acknowledged men and women included parents and grandparents of the Mettawee students, but the guests were not limited to family. The Veterans Breakfast is a community wide celebration Friends and neighbors were included in the list of honorees, and invitations were also extended to veteran's organizations in surrounding towns.

Once again, sixth graders took the lead in organizing the annual event under the guidance of Mettawee paraprofessional educator Kelli Lewis. "Each year the students develop the program, conduct research, decorate the auditorium and participate on stage," Lewis said. "It was a privilege to collaborate with those 6th graders who wanted to have a voice in how the program went. They worked hard and had so many ideas that we couldn't even do them all."

For 2019, the theme was history. Students collected military memorabilia including uniforms, helmets, backpacks, medals and photos, which are currently displayed in the school library. The sixth graders also studied the origin of each military branch of service and reported their findings from the stage to the school and guests.

As always, music highlighted the agenda. Once the students had assembled in the gym, the veterans marched in to the tune of "Stars and Stripes Forever," before taking their assigned seats with their hosts. Near the end of the program, the sixth grade chorus led the audience in singing the five songs of the military branches.

One longstanding Mettawee tradition continued in 2019, a moving tribute to the individual sacrifices of the invited veterans. Principal Brooke DeBonis moved through the crowd with a microphone and stopped at each veteran who introduced themselves, along with stating their military branch and years served. At this year's breakfast, the honored guests ranged from Korean War veterans to soldiers currently in the military, representing 70 years of continued service.

"The Veterans Day Breakfast is one of the most important days of the school year," DeBonis said. "Not only do we celebrate the sacrifice of our veterans, but our students see and feel the pride and honor of serving our country."

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