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Plum elementary students plan a tribute to veterans

| Wednesday, May 7, 2014, 7:03 p.m.

Regency Park Elementary School and the Plum American Legion have had a longstanding relationship.

“For many years, Regency Park has been having Veterans Day and Memorial Day programs in conjunction with the American Legion Post 980,” said Martha Freese, Regency Park's school-based intervention and GATE teacher.

“Our goal is to have the children participate in a program that would have meaning so that as they got older, they would always remember to thank a veteran for their service.”

The children got to know American Legion member and veteran Bill Patton who, Freese said, the children referred to as “Uncle Bill.”

Patton passed away last year. Students are continuing to honor his memory with a project for veterans who will be attending a lunch at the American Legion on May 12, Freese said.

The school's fifth-graders decorated bags with a variety of patriotic symbols, Freese said.

Polly Schmeck, longtime community volunteer who is Freese's mother, is sewing patriotic-decorated tissue holders. The children are donating pocket-sized tissues that will be placed in the holders.

“We will put the tissues and hand-made cards and notes into each of the bags that the post will distribute to the veterans,” Freese said.

The students also are in the process of planning a Memorial Day program at 9 a.m. on May 22 at the school.

Freese said Principal Justin Stephans will offer opening remarks. The pledge of allegiance will be led by Regency Park students who are Girl Scouts.

Also, two students will give a talk about Memorial Day and the reason for honoring veterans.

A veteran from Post 980 will give a talk followed by the playing of taps.

Regency Park's chorus will sing, “God Bless the USA” as a slide show created by sixth-graders plays.

Veterans related to Regency Park students will be in attendance and will be introduced, Freese said.

The students will sing a song of appreciation written by chorus teacher Janet Zegar to the veterans.

“Our students enjoy recognizing the veterans, and, as educators, we are proud to be a part of this learning process,” Freese said.

Plum American Legion Commander Darnell “Jeff” Pope said the interaction between the veterans and the students benefits both groups.

“The vets like it,” Pope said. “When they get things from the kids, it makes them feel good.”

Pope said the annual Memorial Day and Veterans Day programs give children a greater knowledge and appreciation of veterans.

“I think it gives kids a better understanding of why we honor our veterans,” Pope said. “So many children have no idea.”

Karen Zapf is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400 ext. 8753 or

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