Forestville honors veterans

OBSERVER Photos by Mary Heyl. During the June Board of Education meeting, Forestville board members and administrators presented Commander Tom Halicki with a special gift, created by Dan Grande, middle/high school principal. Pictured, from left, are Superintendent Renee Garrett, Halicki, Board President Carol Woodward and Grande.

FORESTVILLE — Patriotism, pride and gratitude: these core values were celebrated at Forestville’s June Board of Education meeting, which honored local veterans and fittingly took place on Thursday, the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings.

On behalf of the board of education, President Carol Woodward welcomed veterans and their families from Forestville’s J. Carter Knapp American Legion Post 953.

“Honoring our veterans is very personal for many of us here tonight,” Woodward said. “(Board member) Sylvester Cleary served in the U.S. Marine Corps during the Vietnam War, (Board member) Dave Caccamise’s son is currently serving in the U.S. Marine Corps, (Board member) Michael Lomanto’s father served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. My dad was a World War II veteran, and I have a brother, uncle, stepson and three granddaughters that have served.”

“(Middle/high school principal) Dan Grande served in the U.S. Navy, and (district treasurer) Jennifer Fitzgerald’s husband is on active duty in the U.S. Air Force,” Woodward continued. “The list of those who have served and are serving from our school community is much longer than those I just mentioned.”

Woodward emphasized how much Forestville Central School appreciates veterans’ sacrifice, courage, honor and integrity. “You are pillars in our community and serve as role models to our students,” she said. “We are proud to be Americans and very proud our school instills patriotism in our students.” Each member of the school board addressed the group of veterans and thanked them for their service.

OBSERVER Photos by Mary Heyl. Above, members of Forestville Central School’s Art Club presented members of the J. Carter Knapp American Legion Post 953 with special gifts they painted. Pictured, from left, are Sophie Steward, Giulianna “Giugi” Patton, Mia Patton and Antonio Patton.

“I’m just so proud that all of you are part of village,” said retiring board member Stacey Mierzwa, whose last meeting was Thursday. “Thank you so much.”

Lomanto said, “This is the first time I think we’ve seen all of you in this room for a board meeting and for us to recognize what you’ve done. Thank you very much for your service to this country.”

Woodward invited students from the Art Club to come forward and share their gifts with legion members. Antonio Patton, Giulianna “Giugi” Patton, Mia Patton and Sophie Steward created paintings of the flag with the quote, “Home of the free because of the brave.” Art Club member Avalyn Kwilos also contributed her talent to the gifts, but was unable to attend the meeting. A large flag painted using the hands and feet of the students was also presented to legion members to display at the post. The students then read their favorite quote to the veterans: “Our flag does not fly because the wind moves it. It flies with the last breath of each soldier who died protecting it.”

Board members then turned off the lights to present Legion Commander Thomas “Tom” Halicki with a special gift made especially for the legion by Grande. The free-standing lighted plaque displays the name of the post and the seals of each branch of the military. Halicki thanked the students and school board members for their gifts.

“You deserve our respect and admiration, and we sincerely thank you,” said Woodward, who invited all to enjoy cake and punch together.

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