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Veterans saluted at Armstrong school program |

Veterans saluted at Armstrong school program

Brad Pedersen
Students at West Hills Intermediate School greeted Army Staff Sgt. Daniel Crouch of Kittanning with high fives Friday at a breakfast program for Veterans Day.

Students at West Hills Intermediate School showed some 80 veterans how much they appreciated their service with breakfast and patriotic songs Friday.

“These veterans are the people who were willing to defend us and our freedom, so it’s important we take the time to honor them,” Principal Chuck Kreinbucher said. “This is the largest turnout we have ever had for this event — it’s a really special thing.”

Friday marked the second year Kittanning resident Jeff Cratty, who served as a senior airman in the Air Force, attended the event to have breakfast with his fifth-grade son, Scott.

“I like having him here with me and my friends,” Scott said. “It’s really nice to be able to see that my friends also know people who served.”

The event included performances by the school’s concert band and chorus, along with readings of patriotic poems and stories from students.

“It’s nice to know that what we’ve done as veterans isn’t going to be forgotten,” Cratty said. “If they didn’t do this, I don’t know how much kids would understand the military or what people in their community have done for this country.”

Band director Robert Cieslinski said the school has always offered some kind of Veterans Day observance but did not start inviting veterans to breakfast until four years ago. During the first celebration, about 35 veterans visited.

“We want our veterans to leave here really feeling like they are truly appreciated,” Cieslinski said.

Army Staff Sgt. Daniel Crouch of Kittanning said it was touching to see the students show their appreciation. The students greeted Crouch, who had breakfast with his sixth-grade son, Daine, with high fives as they walked down the hallway.

“When they’re this age, it especially means a lot because we see that they understand the military is more to them than something on the news or a video game,” Crouch said. “It’s nice to see they realize the military and veterans are actual people, whether it’s a friend, parent, grandparent or coach. It’s just a cool thing.”

Brad Pedersen is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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