On Thursday evening, November 7, Chocachatti Elementary students presented another impressive and colorful show. The Brooksville school is known for its emphasis on the creative and performing arts and real-life learning experiences. This time it was just the second graders who starred in the show and there was a special purpose behind it – to honor our nation’s veterans. Approximately 140 students with various roles assembled on stage. Some were dancers and some were singers. Others had speaking parts, while other children worked in stagecraft behind the scenes.
Prior to the performance, some of the children, practiced their dance steps. They were dressed in colorful red, white and blue costumes. The students exuded a confidence gained from many weeks of practice with their dance teacher, Ms. Rhonda Bowers and their music teacher, Ms. Nancy Krauss.
Dustin Frey summed up their feelings when he said, “I think we can do awesome today.”
These second graders not only gained a knowledge of American history, especially in terms of Veterans’ Day and patriotism, from being in the show. They also learned poise, as well as the importance of discipline, dedication and teamwork.
Athena Daly commented, “I learned that we can always work together to make something happen.”
Georganna Squires added, “I learned that working together will make our tap dance be good.”
Despite being so young, the children had a grasp of the important role our military play and why we celebrate Veterans’ Day.
Damon Thomas was dressed as the sailor kissing a nurse portrayed in the famous picture taken in Times Square when it was announced that World War II was over.
“You should thank all the veterans that have served in the military,” Damon remarked.
Hayden Bishop stated, “I learned that veterans are special and to some it’s [Veterans Day] is just a holiday but to others it’s not.”
Madison Shaw added, “I learned that veterans have served for us to have freedom. The best part of being in the show is that we get to perform for our veterans.”
The military men and women in the audience were appreciative of the special recognition they received.
Robert Yarzab, a former Marine, remarked, “This is truly a privilege and an honor to be here tonight. The children doing something for the veterans like this is beautiful.”
Ryan Strittmatter was probably the youngest service person in attendance. The Senior Airman has been in the Air Force for two years and plans to make it a career. His niece performed in the show.
“This is awesome. I’m glad I could come. My niece is very excited,” Strittmatter stated.
Besides the veterans, the audience included students, faculty and parents. Superintendent of Schools John Stratton and School Board member Gus Guadagnino also attended the performance.
As part of the show, individual children got up in front, on the microphones, each saying one or two lines. They explained the history and meaning behind a number of patriotic symbols. These included the Bald Eagle, the flag and the Statue of Liberty.
One catchy tune was entitled “Nifty Fifty.” The entire cast sang the names of all the fifty states in alphabetical order – first at a normal pace and then at a speeded up pace. It was amazing that they could memorize the song and not stumble over the words.
“Welcome Home” was a particularly poignant song. While one of the children on center stage played the part of a Marine Corpsman writing a letter home, two other children portraying his parents stood at stage right reading the letter. At the end of the song the soldier walks across the stage to his “parents” and embraces them.
Fifth grader Jaël Pierre performed a flawless rendition of “We Honor You” on the violin. She has been studying the instrument since she was one year old.
Through their participation in the patriotic show, these second graders have gained an appreciation of America’s heritage, the important part that our veterans have played in this heritage and the vital role of our military men and women at home and across the world.