LINCROFT – Oak Hill Academy students and faculty continued its tradition of honoring veterans during the school’s 21st annual Veterans Day program Thursday. More than 40 students in Pre-Kindergarten through 8th grades created a variety of tributes, dramatic readings, choreography, dance ensembles, and musical instrument presentations. A professional brass duo, and the Christian Brothers Academy Pipes and Drums also performed.
The Marine Academy of Science and Technology (MAST) Color Guard from Sandy Hook presented colors to open of the program, the Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten students led the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. Under the direction of Oak Hill music teacher, Miss Hannah Dittloff, all those sang the national anthem.
Patrice Murray, Director of Personnel/Administration, organized the annual program, continuing her tradition of selecting a specific them to further educate students on a variety of aspects relating to the service of veterans through American history.
This year, the themes were “How the board game Monopoly helped POW’s escape during WWII,” “Recognizing the 100th anniversary of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier,” and “How service animals help our Veterans” among the traditionalc ore themes of “Who is a Veteran,” and the “History of Veterans Day”.
Navy Second Class Petty Officer Michael Dowens, an Oak Hill student’s parent, spoke about how his service dog, Emery, helped him through military discharge and confronting post-traumatic stress disorder. Petty Officer Dowens demonstrated commands he uses with Emery, explaining the Service Dog Vest the canine wears signifies she is working and must not be distracted in the mission on which she must stay focused. Once Dowens removed Emery’s vest, she became playful and ran around the stage! Once he put her vest back on, Emery went back to working mode and stood by his side!
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Talents of students and staff at Oak Hill were on display with Mrs. Bridget DeVivo’s tap dancers tapping to “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” Miss Dittloff’s chorus singing “A Thanks to Our Veterans,” and third grade teacher, Miss Amanda McTigue (accompanied by Tim DiDomenico) singing “My Country ‘Tis of Thee”
Mrs. Marie Geroni also created a slide show of pictures to synchronize with the dramatic readings. Three students also showcased their piano playing talents.
Miss Murray’s annual tradition began in November 2001 after the September 11 tragedies. She believed Oak Hill as a school should recognize and honor those in the military who fought and are still fighting for national freedom and protection.
In a year that schools are still following Covid protocols, attendance was limited to students and staff. As the brass duo of Mrs. Janet and Tom Bender accompanied by Mrs. Pamela Momyer on piano, played the “Armed Forces Medley,” honoring each of the five military branches of service, faculty and staff stood to honor veterans from their families.
“Taps” and a moment of silence concluded the program.
“The Veterans Day program has become an important tradition at Oak Hill Academy,” said Headmaster Joseph A. Pacelli, a US Army veteran, “the youngest generation is learning about all veterans including their ancestors in the greatest generation. They have learned to honor, respect, and revere those in uniform.”