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Thoughts Turn To Vets

For Some Students, An Opportunity To Say Thank You At School; Others Enjoy The Day Off

STEVEN GOODE

November 12, 2008

On the 90th anniversary of the signing of the armistice to end World War I, school children around the state celebrated Veterans Day in different ways Tuesday, depending on whether their district took the day off or was among a small but growing number that held classes.

In Windsor, where the board of education decided several years ago to remain open on the optional state holiday, students of all grade levels spent all or part of their school day honoring veterans through music, art, poems and visits with current and former armed forces personnel.

"For this reason, it's nice to have school open," said Bob Mooney, a World War II veteran who was among about 30 veterans honored at an assembly at Oliver Ellsworth Elementary School in Windsor, where his great-granddaughter, Aysia Ryan, is a student.

"But it's always nice to have a day off."

Drevon Daniels, a fourth-grade student, was among the performers who sang patriotic songs. Asked about his preference, he quickly responded "day off" before adding that he understood the importance of the day.

At the Buckland Hills Mall in Manchester, many school-age shoppers from districts that still observe the holiday filled the shops and clogged the food court.

Josh Cardella, a Tolland High School freshman who spent part of the morning at the Game Stop video game store, said that although he would like to have a better understanding of the history of Veterans Day, "It's nice to get some time off."

Nicole Fillion, an Ellington High School senior, said the school celebrated Veterans Day with an assembly and breakfast with vets on Monday.

"I don't think we need the day off, I just like having the day off," Fillion said.

In Hartford, where schools were open on the holiday for the first time, Vietnam veteran Dave Ionno reiterated his displeasure over the board of education's decision.

Ionno, who was invited by a teacher to speak to a class of ninth- and 10th-grade students, said he was among just a handful who participated in programs of remembrance across the district.

Ionno blamed the school board, Hartford Mayor Eddie A. Perez, who is also the school board president, and Superintendent Steven Adamowski for not sitting down with teachers and planning Veterans Day-related activities for students.

Retired Army Brig. Gen. James Throwe said Tuesday that although he appreciated it that the schools take the holiday seriously, he'd prefer that they all close in observance of veterans' sacrifices.

"I think it's a mistake not to have the holiday," Throwe said. "The veterans have earned the right to have a holiday."

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
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