Paradise Knoll School students, staff pay tribute to veterans for their service

| 16 Nov 2017 | 02:13

By Patricia Keller
Students and staff of Paradise Knoll Elementary School in Oak Ridge/West Milford paid tribute to veterans on Nov. 8. The annual event was instituted several years ago by physical education teacher Jill Cullen. Cullen’s vision to recognize, pay tribute to, and thank the family member veterans of the PK community for their service has been recognized by the district as a shining example; and has since expanded to other schools in the district. Veterans and their spouses were treated to a delicious breakfast at the school prior to the ceremony. They then paraded through the hallways, admiring artwork students created in honor of them. They proceeded into the “Paradise Plaza” all-purpose room to the tunes of bagpipes provided by West Milford High School students and school alumni, Evan Lemay and Genna Longaker. Students, staff, and family members stood to greet them, waving tiny flags and applauding. Principal Jennifer Miller gave the welcoming statement and Superintendent Dr. Alex Anemone gave a brief speech in acknowledgment of Cullen and the program, and thanked the veterans for their service.
Teachers led the students in the Pledge of Allegiance and in singing patriotic songs to their guests. Cullen spoke about growing up in a military family and how proud she is of her father.
Kevin Canova, who attended Paradise Knoll School, spoke to the children about his life in the Army. Cullen then presented a slideshow featuring photos of each of the guests of honor from their time of service, and each was announced individually by name and escorted by family members through the crowd to the sound of applause. Each family then paused to pose for a keepsake photo with their veteran. As the ceremony concluded, the honorees walked in procession to the song “I’m Proud to be an American” as students and staff applauded them once more, some reaching out to shake hands with the veterans as they exited.