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West Jefferson Hills students send 1,000 thank-you cards to veterans

| Friday, Nov. 3, 2017, 11:00 p.m.

Students in the West Jefferson Hills School District are sending 1,000 cards to patients at the Veteran's Administration Hospital in Oakland to say thank-you in a big way for their service to the country.

“It's all grade levels,” said Chris Sefcheck, principal at Thomas Jefferson High School, who is spearheading the effort on behalf of the district's 2,900 students.

The genesis of the thank-you card project was last year's delivery of Valentine's Day cards to 500 patients at the hospital, said Sefcheck, who is a veteran of the Air Force and was in the Gulf War.

“The students thought it was awesome,” he said.

So with Veterans Day on Nov. 10, district officials, teachers and students decided on sending thank-you cards to veterans at the hospital.

“They are thanking the veterans for what they did,” said Sefcheck, adding that seniors from Thomas Jefferson High School will deliver the cards to the patients.

“It is all driven by them,” Sefcheck said. “This is what makes this country great.”

The cards, all handmade, include drawings, pictures and personal letters for the hospital patients. In some of the cards, students even mention family members who have served in the armed services.

“There has been overwhelming support,” said Sefcheck, adding that many district students do community support projects, mostly behind the scenes. Sefcheck said it is a sobering experience for the students to see some of the veterans who lost a leg or arm while in the service.

“It is difficult things for them to see,” he said.

Caitlin Swoger, a fourth- grade teacher at Gill Hall Elementary School, said her students were enthusiastic.

“In class, we had a discussion about veterans and Veterans Day,” she said. “During that discussion, the children were very inquisitive and excited to know that the cards they were going to make would be delivered to local veterans in Pittsburgh. The children brainstormed together to come up with ideas and words to use when creating their own individual cards.”

On Veterans Day, the West Jefferson Hills Chamber of Commerce, Pleasant Hills and Jefferson Hills borough councils, veterans and high school students will mark the day with a noon ceremony at the high school that includes speeches and performances by the high school band, chorus and choir. The keynote speaker is Sam DeMarco, a retired Marine and Vietnam War veteran. Other featured speakers include Michael Thatcher, a former Marine and district judge candidate, as well as Sue Mackulin of the Jefferson Hills Chamber of Commerce.

Suzanne Elliott is a Tribune-Review staff writer. She can be reached at selliott@tribweb.com or 412-871-2346.

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