NEW HAVEN — During an assembly Monday afternoon, students at New Haven elementary school gathered to honor veterans, as well as one of their teachers.
Due to her work within her classroom to honor veterans and educate children on the importance of such a cause, Fourth Grade Teacher Rhonda Tennant was awarded Post 9926 of Mason Teacher of the Year award, the West Virginia VFW Teacher of the Year award, and the National Citizenship Education Teacher Award.
“I’m greatly honored,” Tennant said. “I so respect veterans. I don’t know if we truly know and appreciate what they do.”
Tennant said in addition to performing their original song honoring veterans, New Haven fourth graders have also been writing to soldiers who were in Iraq and Afghanistan, who the students have gotten to know through their letters. Tennant said some of the soldiers have visit the students when they returned home and have let them know how much they appreciate the letters, which also gives the students an appreciation for those in the armed forces.
During the assembly, Tennant also spoke on how their class song came to fruition, saying it began with the fourth grade students writing poems for Veterans Day. Tennant’s class decided to work on a poem as a group, bringing all of their ideas about veterans together. After the poem had been completed and posted in the school hallways, New Haven music teacher Kim Bond got involved and the students set their poem to music. Tennant noted the students have performed the song at various locations around the county, as well as a special performance at the Capitol in Charleston.
A video of the students performing has also been made and was shown during the assembly. Tennant said the hope with the video was to upload it to YouTube to not only share it around Mason County and the surrounding area, but to hopefully get attention from others. Tennant mentioned “The Today Show,” saying other videos are broadcast on that show and the hope is their video may be included one day.
In addition to the students, teachers, Mason County Board of Education members, and other visitors, attending the assembly were VFW State Department Commander James Talerico, State Quarter Master Kevin Light, Post 9926 Commander Milford Mowery, Senior Vice Commander Post 9926 Ray Varian, and Post 9926 Quarter Master Robert Caruthers. U.S. Air Force Staff Sergeant Todd McDade, and New Haven Mayor George Gibbs.
Superintendent Suzanne Dickens closed the assembly, noting Tennant’s and the students’ achievements and the work they have accomplished.