SPRING HILL — The walkway leading to the J.D. Floyd K8 cafeteria was lined with American flags. Inside, students gathered twice, once for the younger children and again for the older ones, to be introduced to veterans and active military personnel who were somehow related to the school.
The Central High School color guard was on hand to post the colors and the children, school staff and visitors listened to the national anthem and pledged allegiance to the flag.
The event was coordinated by exceptional student education teacher Joyce Lewis, whose son, Army Spc. Michael Tamborello, was one of the visitors. Four years ago, she saw that there was no recognition of veterans at the school and decided it was time for a change.
There were many military personnel on hand for the recognition, including:
• Tamborello, a former student, is heading to Iraq in a month.
• Spc. Andrew LaRocca, retired from the Army. The former student was a combat medic and is the son of kindergarten teacher Allyson Truman.
• Pvt. Steven Truman, another of Allyson Truman's sons, is on active duty in the Florida Army National Guard.
• Spc. Shawn Hobbs, Army, whose daughter, Vivian Hobbs, is a J.D. Floyd fourth-grader. He served 10 years in the military police.
• Petty Officer Todd Regan, Coast Guard, who is the fiance of J.D. Floyd exceptional education teacher Barbara Tobin.
• Zane Bliss, retired National Guard Army staff sergeant, who served as an automotive mechanic. He is a custodian at the school.
• Cpl. Mary Ellen McNulty, retired from the Marine Corps, who is an exceptional student education teacher at J.D. Floyd. She served as a radio operator.
• Master Sgt. Benny Gonzalez, retired from the Army, who was on active duty for 21 years. He is a fifth-grade teacher at the school and his wife, Gloria Gonzalez, is one of the school's secretaries.
• Tonya Evans, retired from the Navy and Army reserve. She is a fourth-grade teacher at the school.
• Sgt. Ed Audette, Air Force, who is a teacher at the school and has a son, eighth-grader Timmy Audette, there, too.
•Sgt. Rolando Griffith, retired from the Army, who served for more than 20 years and is a paraprofessional at the school in the ESOL program for children whose first language is not English.
• Cpl. Willie Stephens, Marine Corps, whose daughter Aysia Stephens is in fourth-grade.
• Two servicemen, Jason McQueeney, Army, and Charles E. Smith, National Guard reserve, were represented by their mothers, since they were unable to attend. McQueeney has a daughter, Meghan McQueeney, in fourth grade at the school; and Smith has a nephew, Jaquavias Johnson, in kindergarten.