FAIRVIEW — Fairview Elementary School students sent out a clear message to veterans Thursday.
“We appreciate you!” they sang. “You! You! You!”
During a “Salute to Our Veterans” program, they prayed, sang, recited poetry and performed patriotic musical numbers to thank those who have served their country.
Student artwork and other creations adorned the walls of the firehall where the celebration was held. Two students greeted visitors at the door and handed out programs and little toy soldiers.
“We say thank you for all you’ve done,” the students sang. “We celebrate your life. We recognize your sacrifice.”
Ronald Boyce, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps whose daughter, Lariah, 8, goes to the school, was touched by the program, which marked its fifth year Thursday.
“I’ve been here every time they’ve done it,” he said. “It makes me proud, honestly. At least they’re doing something. It’s not very often you find someone who appreciates what we’ve done.”
Another veteran, Basil Ruckle, whose granddaughter, Laila, took part in the program, was also impressed. He said the program gets bigger every year.
“The little kids do a great job,” he said.
Veteran Keith Stalnaker, whose granddaughter, Serenity Batson, read a poem for veterans, also liked the program.
“It’s really good to have it for the kids, and make them realize what we did for the people,” he said.
School Principal Mel Coleman Jr. said the school was “just very appreciative that the veterans came out for the students to honor them for what they’ve done for our country.”
Coleman said preparing for the program takes a lot of work, but it’s worth it.
“We want the kids to understand the importance of what these people did for our country and for the freedom that we have today, so we try to teach them to show their appreciation for our veterans,” he said. “This is their way of doing that. We’re trying to do that through education.”
According to Coleman, the school’s entire staff worked to put on the program.
“We call ourself a team, ‘Team Fairview,’ and we all came together and put this on,” he said. “This didn’t happen overnight.”
Third grader Kynlie Roach said taking part in the assembly was fun. She rang a bell in a “Let Freedom Ring” number.
“I liked it a lot,” she said.
She said both her grandpas and her great-grandpa served in the military.
She wanted to honor veterans because of the freedoms they have made possible.
Marion County Board of Education members Richard Pellegrin and Donna Costello attended.
“I can’t say enough about the program you’ve done,” Costello said, addressing the group.