Third-grade students commemorate Veterans Day at Clark school

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CLARK, NJ — Students in Jacqualena Grigoli Kozlowski’s third-grade class at Valley Road Elementary School commemorated Veterans Day by learning about the significance of Veterans Day and the various branches of the military. Students learned about the importance of both active duty and retired military personnel through a schoolwide assembly and visits from veterans. Kozlowski’s class had the pleasure of speaking with three distinguished veterans in their classroom:

• Thomas Butler, a Marine who served in Vietnam and Purple Heart recipient who completed his tour of duty as a captain.

• John DeSarno, who served in the Marine Corps in the Vietnam War. He served in combat as an MOS 0341 rifleman and achieved the rank of corporal. He was awarded the Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with a Bronze Star.

• Rando Manimtim, who served in the U.S. Air Force for 10 years as a secure communications specialist.

Students wrote appreciative letters to several retired and active-duty military personnel, thanking them for their service.

After the in-person sessions, Kozlowski’s class also had a virtual session with an active-duty military member. Aviation Structural Mechanic First Class Billy Mastorio, crew chief from the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, based out of Pensacola, Fla., FaceTimed with the class to discuss his duties in the Blue Angels. Students watched video clips of the Blue Angels and were able to ask Mastorio questions about the airplanes they use, the pilots and his time in the Navy. Students wrote letters and drew pictures to send to Mastorio and the rest of The Blue Angels.

“It was an honor to be able to speak to these amazing men who volunteered their time to share their experiences with our class,” Kozlowski said. “This was an important and memorable activity for these third-grade students. With their letters, students hoped to bring some cheer and encouragement to those that have given and are still giving their all to protect our country.”

Photos Courtesy of Christine Casale Broski