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Veterans Day assembly at IS 259, Brooklyn

Paying homage
New York Teacher
Miller Photography
IS 259 staff and students pose with visiting veterans.
Miller Photography
Teacher and event coordinator Jessica Amato and student DeSean McBean, who spoke about his mother’s deployment, thank veterans Joseph Seminara (second from right) and Danny Friedman.

Jessica Amato teaches English language arts to 7th-graders at IS 259 in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. When a student asked her, “What is a veteran?” Amato said she “knew we had to do something on Veterans Day. We need to pay homage to our veterans and recognize the freedoms we enjoy because of their sacrifices.” It’s personal for Amato: One of her uncles died in Vietnam and another also served there. Amato organized an assembly that featured veterans from the Korean conflict and wars in Vietnam, the Persian Gulf and Afghanistan. They spoke about the losses they endured and the lasting friendships they made. A map projected on a screen showed students where their guests had served. Students also made a video of interviews with classmates whose relatives are veterans and recorded a message of thanks for their service. “We had an idea and a vision and they brought it to fruition,” Amato said. Student DeSean McBean spoke at the assembly on Nov. 4 about his mother’s recent deployment and the fear and pride her service engenders: “My mom has always been the bravest, toughest in the family. Strong enough to fight, but scared to go on roller coasters.” J.W. Cortes, who served in Iraq with the Marines and now appears in the Fox TV show “Gotham,” has a cousin at the school. He spoke about his service and rebuilding his life when he returned home. After the ceremony, students waved flags and homemade posters and thanked the veterans. The marching band played “America the Beautiful” and “Taps,” followed by a moment of silence for deceased veterans. “It was a nice way for the community to come together and educate the children,” said Marissa Vargas, the band director. “Youth in this day and age don’t always know about veterans’ sacrifice.”

Related Topics: Veterans
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