students and faculty coordinated with school officials to hold its first flag observance ceremony several days prior to Memorial Day at the (WEC).
In the weeks leading up to the ceremony, students from the school’s humanities classes sold American flags for $25 each to local residents, teachers and business owners, who purchased them in honor of someone close to them who served in the military.
“The great part is that while they were selling the flags, they got to hear stories from the people buying them — veterans, family members and friends,” said David Rifkind, member of the youth leadership forum and the high school’s social studies teacher.
The students’ role in putting the event together fit in well with the community service aspect of their humanities class curriculum, added Rifkind, who was instrumental in planning the event.
At the ceremony, several members of the community addressed the crowd, who were standing in front of dozens of American flags that were positioned throughout WEC’s front lawn. Former New York State resident Sidney Seller flew in from Florida to give a speech at the event.
“It is very important for young people to understand what patriotism means. It’s a love and affection for your country, which we need dearly today,” said Seller, a New York State adjutant, a past senior department commander for Disabled American Veterans (DAV) and veteran of World War II.
According to district spokesperson Barbara Giese, all proceeds from the sale of the flags will be donated to DAV. The idea for the ceremony came from Jaime Wysocki, a board member of the Hewlett-Woodmere Business Association and owner of in Woodmere. She has a personal interest in such events, as her husband is currently serving in Afghanistan.
“I brought the idea to the school district and let them run with it, and they did a great job,” said Wysocki, who is running for president of the business association. “We are going to continue this next year, as well as have a parade on Memorial Day. The fire department and the police department are already on board.”
The event also included presentations by Hewlett High School students. Chorus member Sarah Lamsifer sang “God Bless America,” and Gabrielle Zinnar read “Home of the Brave,” a poem written nearly 10 years ago by an army veteran.
“I really like this poem," Zinnar said. "I think it shows the true meaning of this occasion.”
Hewlett High School music teacher Anthony Santanastaso closed the ceremony by playing “Taps” on a trumpet.
According to Giese, approximately 80 flags were sold. The display will remain for about two weeks, after which, buyers can pick up their flags at the WEC.