Veterans celebrated at Wells Elementary School

Post date: Nov 19, 2015 8:27:28 PM

On November 9th, two days prior to Veterans Day, Wells Elementary School held its annual Veteran’s Day K-4 assembly. Several veterans and five sailors from the submarine USS Scranton attended.

All guests received personalized certificates of appreciation from students of Lynn McPherson’s classroom. Certificates read in part, “Veterans Day. In memory of those who served. In honor of those who serve us now.”

Veterans honored were Melvin Bates (U.S. Army and Senior Vice-Commander of VFW District 11, VFW Post 6977), John Primerano, Jr. (U.S. Army and Vice Commander of VFW Post 6977), Chuck Andrews (U.S. Navy Submarine Service and Chaplain with VFW Post 6977), Raymond Farnham (U.S. Army and Service Officer with VFW Post 6977), Brenda Blonigen (U.S. Air Force, New Hampshire Air National Guard and currently Service Master with VFW Post 6977), Lt. Col. Robert Blonigen (U.S. Air Force. Currently with the New Hampshire Air National Guard and Trustee for VFW Post 6977), and five sailors from the USS Scranton including Petty Officers Soukup, Weston, Wring, Bequette, and Chief Camac.

The 45-minute event featured the WHS Band, Color Guard, and numerous students reading and singing, including a fourth grade student, Riley Nichols, who sang the Star Spangled Banner at the opening. Cub Scout Pack 356 demonstrated how to properly fold the American flag and Wells High School students Kyle Crothers and Kiah Holsdworth played Taps.

Students and staff also completed a campaign on November 9th of collecting packaged food, candy, toiletries, and other items to be shipped to wounded members of the military receiving treatment at Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, D.C. and at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany.

Organized largely by WES Assistant Principal Ken Spinney, this assembly also functions as a real life lesson for students in demonstrating one of the school’s core values, “respect”. At the end of the assembly students and staff lined up to shake hands and give “high fives” with the veterans and crew members of the USS Scranton.

Veteran Mel Bates offered his perspective on the assembly. “I am pleased to do this every year for the elementary school children of Wells,” commented Bates. “I enjoy talking with these kids about what Veterans Day means to me. I tell them that when I look at our American flag, it represents freedom and I try to impart this to them and ask various questions about our flag. I am very proud that these children know the answers to my questions.”

Offering his sentiment following the assembly was Lt. Col. Robert Blonigen. “It’s always great to see such young Americans and the fact that they are being taught about Veterans Day and what it means to honor veterans,” said Blonigen. “It brings me back to my childhood when I was in school and it just brightens my heart to know that those values are still being taught in our schools.” Blonigen and Retired Chief Master Sargent and former Command Chief of the 157th Air Refueling Wing at Pease ANGB Brenda Blonigen are husband and wife.

At left is First Sargent (Ret.) Mel Bates and Lt. Col Robert Blonigen greeting students and others at the end of WES’s Annual Veterans Day Assembly

In the photo receiving a certificate of appreciation from first grade student Devyn Woodman is Mel Bates, a 6-year veteran of the U.S. Army who served nine months near the DMZ in Korea. Currently, First Sargent Bates (Ret.) serves as co-coordinator for the Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program in the York County area.