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West Hempfield Elementary School recognized for Veterans Day program

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review - 2/4/2020

Feb. 3--Teachers at West Hempfield Elementary School were awarded a plaque from AMVETS deeming their Veterans Day program excellent.

The program drew several veterans -- who were related to students -- to the school for breakfast and a music show.

"I was stunned," said Rege Riley, former National Commander for AMVETS. "I was just in awe and I've been to Alaska, to Hawaii... . (The show) was just amazing and I felt in my heart I had to acknowledge the principal."

Kids donned in red, white and blue filled the school's gymnasium during the Nov. 11 program. A slide show depicting student projects based around Veterans Day kicked off the program, followed by singing of "The Star-Spangled Banner" led by a local Boy Scout troop. The program also included an in-unison "thank you" from the students to the veterans.

Riley, who has two great-grandsons at the school, presented the award to one of the school's music teachers, Brandie Falk, and Principal Chris Brasco last month.

"It's an honor," Falk said. "It's a big production to put on, but it's such an honor to get to do this because I feel I'm one of those people who have a lot of civilian guilt for not serving in the military. I feel like our freedoms and what not, I feel guilty for having them because I don't do anything to uphold them so I feel like it's the least that I can do to give back to our veterans ... especially to tell them 'Thank you' and 'You're loved and appreciated and not forgotten.'"

Falk, who has worked at West Hempfield Elementary School since 2014, said her favorite part about the program is seeing the students' reactions when veterans walk in with their uniforms on.

"The kids are star stuck," Falk said, adding, "It's fun they get to see real veterans and it's people in their community that served and protected us."

Riley, who belongs to the AMVETS post in North Braddock, said the organization is heavily involved in schools, offering poster contests for students in kindergarten through fifth grade and essay contests for older students.

Megan Tomasic is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 724-850-1203, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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