SPRING HILL — Barbara O'Sullivan has a personal connection to a veteran, and as a Spring Hill Elementary School third-grade teacher decided it was important for the school to recognize and appreciate veterans' contributions.
"My husband's a vet, and I know what it takes for men and women to have the character and courage to fight for our country, and they need to be honored," O'Sullivan said. "It's extremely important on Veterans Day to show our thanks for their unselfish sacrifices and for providing us our freedoms and we need to teach the kids this — how hard it is for the men and women and their families."
And so O'Sullivan spearheaded a schoolwide program for local veterans.
Fourth-graders in Jennifer Sisco's class described some of the activities to which local veterans will be treated on Friday.
"We have saved pictures and put them on a slide show and put some music behind it," said Mariah Spring, 9.
She was explaining how her class researched the different military branches, found war photos and, with Sisco's help, put together a presentation.
"(The) pictures are of veterans and them in war," said Caden McVicker, 9, "We have this one picture, it has a flag in the background (and) it says 'Lest we forget.' All the pictures are about we can never forget. We want to thank them for sacrificing themselves."
The Stomp Team, the school dance club, Alexis Spring, 9, explained, "is going to do a dance and a routine. They made up the music, and at the end they say, 'Thank you, veterans.' "
"The little kids," Caden said, "they're saying the Pledge of Allegiance all in sign language."
The veterans — 100 have been invited — will begin with breakfast in the media center. As they move to the cafeteria, they will see the student body performing.
The entire school will sing My Country 'Tis of Thee, said James Sobba, 10. "While waving flags," Caden added.
Outdoors is also where veterans will see the Stomp Team. The team will be on tables, producing beats with sticks, explained team member Joey Avery, 9, who had a lot to say about honoring veterans.
"I think it's important," she said, "because everybody should get their rights and the veterans went overseas and they were sweet to do that, to save us precious ones from being run over by oil tanks. They're saving us from other countries coming into our nation, and they're saving us from being bombed."
Once inside the cafeteria, the veterans will see the fourth grade's slide show, the Pledge of Allegiance in sign, a poetry reading, younger students singing and a slide show of Spring Hill students and staff military family members.
Preparations have been going on for some time, and students and staffers are excited about hosting local veterans.
"It's growing and growing every year," Sisco said.