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Peekskill's Woodside Gets Special Visit From Vets

PEEKSKILL, N.Y. - Students at Woodside Elementary School got some special visitors Thursday morning to give them a lesson about Veterans Day.

Petty Officers Carlos Aponte and Robert Turrone of the Navy, Sergeant Gregory Torres of the Army, and Corporal Greg Matero of the Marines joined veterans and Woodside teachers Maryann Junkins (Air Force) and Anthony Jackson (Army) and Naval veteran and Peekskill American Legion member Jerry Oshaughnessy in talking about their service to the country.

Matero, a fifth-year Marine, told students his job was like the video games where you shoot bad guys, only for real.

"I joined the Marines because of what I'm doing with you guys right now," Matero told the first graders. "I saw a Marine come to my school and I said, 'That's what I want to do'."

Students were asked to dress in red, white and blue for the event and many did just that. All students were given American flags to wave as well.

Teachers Gloria Cordova, Karen Wallis and Therese Wood-Chang have been working collaboratively with their classes on a service-learning project incorporating the common core standards for social studies and community service to veterans. The teachers reached out to the Montrose Veterans’ Nursing Home to find out what their need was and have been planning lessons since the summer.The students learned the words of the Pledge of Allegiance and what they meant.  They also learned American Sign Language in order to make a kinesthetic connection between word, meaning, and memory.   The children in Cordova’s class also learned about the American flag, what it symbolizes, what the colors mean, and what the stars and stripes represent. They wrote their thoughts on the lessons in their journal daily and a final project was a PowerPoint presentation they put together in order to teach other children what the Pledge of Allegiance means.

Cordova led her students in a sign language version of the pledge, which her students had been eagerly practicing for weeks.

Oshaughnessy told students to remember veterans on their day off Friday. Towards the end of the event the teachers presented him with a box of thank you letters their students had written to veterans at the Montrose VA hospital.

"I'm going to pass these out to the men and women down there and they're going to read them, and I bet you'll get some thank-you notes back," Oshaughnessy told them.

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