Veterans assembly teaches Kiski Area students how to be proud Americans | TribLIVE.com
Valley News Dispatch

Veterans assembly teaches Kiski Area students how to be proud Americans

Teghan Simonton
1933375_web1_vnd-KiskiVeteransDay-111319
Teghan Simonton | Tribune-Review
Kiski Area Upper Elementary School hosted 75 veterans for their 16th annual Veterans Day luncheon and assembly on Tuesday, Nov. 12.

Retired Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Dawn Serakowski thought her daughter was in class.

Instead, Kamdyn Serakowski, a senior at Kiski Area High School, surprised her mother Tuesday when she took the podium at Kiski Area Upper Elementary School to deliver the keynote speech for the school’s 16th annual Veterans Day luncheon and assembly.

“When I think of the word ‘veteran,’ I don’t think of character or traits. I think of a person,” Kamdyn Serakowski said, referring to her mother who sat just 10 feet away. “It wasn’t just a job to (my mother). It was her duty.”

Serakowski, one of about 75 veterans in attendance, was brought to tears.

Kiski Area Upper Elementary recognized military veterans with slideshows, student-produced videos, musical and dance performances and speeches by faculty and students. The assembly at which Serakowski spoke followed a luncheon in the cafeteria, with all of the food donated by local organizations.

The event’s turnout of veterans was an all-time high.

During the program, a microphone was passed around so each veteran could name their branch of service and years they served. Many had children and grandchildren in the audience, and they thanked the young people for recognizing their service.

One veteran named all the birthdays he spent deployed on foreign soil. Another said she left her small children behind to be a nurse during Desert Storm.

Another was the district’s superintendent, Tim Scott.

Dan Smith, Upper Elementary’s assistant principal, said the annual event teaches students to respect veterans and understand the sacrifice of serving in the military.

The event was organized by Rebekah Stankowski, a Kiski Area Upper Elementary social studies teacher.

“We like to assume kids know how to act appropriately, but if we don’t teach them how to be a proud American, then they’re not going to understand the gravity of it all,” Stankowski said.

Stankowski enlists the help of current and former Upper Elementary students to put on the event. Kamdyn Serakowski and several other older students returned to help.

“I just think it’s cool to come help out people who have helped us a lot,” said Blake Fritz, an eighth-grader at Kiski Area Intermediate School.

Near the end of the assembly, two World War II veterans — Robert McDermott and Emilio Saldari — were honored with Lifetime Achievement Awards. Then, the 650 students in the gym lined up and high-fived the procession of veterans as they made their exit.

Stankowski expects the event to grow and attract more veterans each year.

“It strikes a nerve with people, and they want to make sure kids know about love of country,” she said.

Teghan Simonton is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Teghan at 724-226-4680, [email protected] or via Twitter .

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.