SPRING HILL — Deltona Elementary School children filled their cafeteria and waved paper American flags they had made to honor their special visitors.
The school held its second "Thank a Soldier Day" on May 27 to show appreciation for military personnel and law enforcement.
Staff Sgt. Eric Breeze, Hernando County Sheriff's Office Col. Mike Mauer and Pfc. Jeffrey Cancel had front-row seats for the two presentations, one for kindergarten through second grade and another for third through fifth grades.
Both appreciation days were coordinated by food nutrition associate Denise Disser, who works in the school cafeteria.
"I think (the) guys need to know we care about them," she said. "They're doing this for us. And I think it's important for the kids to know. They need to know what's going on."
Disser didn't work alone. The children made flags using straws and paper in art classes with art teacher Sharon McCade. Substitute music teacher Giselle Guilbert coordinated the music.
One part of the program was devoted to a slide show of military members who are related to Deltona students or staff members.
Disser was inspired to make the slide show after seeing a video showing people in a mall thanking military personnel.
Disser's daughter Destiny, a fourth-grader, said the reason her mother put the show together was "to honor our soldiers, who give us the freedom we deserve."
One part of the performance that Destiny, 12, enjoyed was signing while singing. She said she has been doing sign language since she was 3.
Heather Kenny, 8, said she liked singing This Land Is Your Land because she sang parts of the song with a friend. She knew she was doing something special, though. They were singing "to thank our soldiers. They protect our country so we can be free," she said.
The efforts were well-received. "It was wonderful," said Cancel. "It was something very nice to see. I'm leaving for Japan in a few days, and this was very motivating."
Breeze noted the impact of giving back.
"I thought it was a great event. I think it's great to give back to the soldiers and all the troops," he said.
Mauer, who is retired from the Coast Guard, said he was glad he participated. "This reinforces why we do what we do. It energizes you."