Berlin Central School Students Honor Veterans
submitted by Jeanne Casatelli, Communications Specialist, Questar III
On November 9, Berlin High School students presented a video tribute to Veterans Day; local veterans were honored guests.
A team of more than 15 students who call themselves “super troopers” created the video sparked by an idea from Rachael Bly, a junior. Rachael said, “I started thinking about Veterans Day and what it means to people and thought a video would raise awareness of how important it should be to everyone.”
Bly took her idea to her history teacher Robert Gould. “The super troopers ran with it,” he said. “In my eleven years of teaching,” Gould continued, “I’ve never taught a better group of kids. They are our best students; most of them are honors level and very involved in many school activities. They are great representatives to the community of how extraordinary our student body is.”
Student Rocco Farano introduced the video by saying, “We wanted to start a conversation since Veterans Day should be more than a day off from school. We should remember the veterans who sacrificed for us so we could have all the freedoms we enjoy.”
The video opened with students portraying soldiers in war until a “Game Over” message led to a series of interviews with students, teachers and administrators answering the question “What does Veterans Day mean to you?”
The veterans who attended the event were very moved by the students’ presentation.
John Cornwall, a former US Navy Seabee, said, “A lot of effort and thoughtfulness went into this, and it’s the first time anything like that was done for me. The beginning war scene showed this was coming from a seventeen year old’s perspective where for them war is a video game. In reality it’s a terrible tragedy so when the message “Game Over” came up and people started sharing what the day meant to them, it made the point – there’s nothing glorious about war. These kids realize that. I was very impressed.”
Neil Manchester, who was also a Navy Seabee, said he teared-up during the presentation. Putting his hand on his heart, he
said, “It was very touching to hear what people had to say about veterans and how much they appreciate what we did and what our military still do.”
One of the leaders of the super troopers, Kathy Amendolara, said she did this video because her grandfather who recently died was a veteran of World War II. “He didn’t talk about it much but at his funeral when they played taps, my grandmother recalled his service and was overwhelmed. It was very emotional for all of us, and I wanted to do this for both of them and all veterans. We learned a lot about those who have served us so bravely, and we’re very lucky to have done this,” Kathy said.
During the assembly the students were asked to acknowledge members of their family and friends who were veterans or currently serving in the military. More than 30 students and faculty stood and called out names of uncles, brothers, fathers, cousins and sons, some now in Iraq or Afghanistan. One student said, “I recognize my uncle who was shot down in WW II, but he survived.”
Marine Corps veteran Wally O’Neil said, “When we got back from Vietnam it wasn’t very nice. That wasn’t a popular war, so it’s very nice to be recognized today.” Refreshments were also served.
Other veterans from Berlin, Grafton and Petersburgh who attended included Craig Gutermuth, US Navy Submarine Service, Rich Terpening, US Army, Walter Walters, US Army Aviation, Roger LeMere, US Army Ordnance, William Craib, US Navy Airforce, and Rolland Hewitt and James Mason Hubbard, both former Marines.