By NewsLine Staff

Ocean Palms Elementary School students have been learning about and honoring veterans. Students participated in Operation Gratitude by collecting candy and decorating cards with heartfelt messages of appreciation delivered to the USO at Naval Station Mayport. Also, each of the school’s 972 students placed an American flag in the ground at the front of the school to line the entryway and honor the military.

Finally, Ocean Palm’s Show Choir, Fun Friday Music Club and student representatives presented the third annual Veterans Day Tribute to an audience of both veterans and active duty military. The choir, directed by Ocean Palms music teacher Jennifer Schlechte, sang a selection of patriotic hits including the Armed Forces Salute to all branches of the service. Student representatives from each grade level shared speeches, essays and poems about veterans. As a finale, those with military background introduced themselves, their military branch and years of service. One World War II veteran was in attendance.

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During the Veterans Day Tribute, Principal Jessica Richardson unveiled renderings of renovations and enhancements that are currently in progress. The school’s front field is being renamed Hero Field, an idea born from conversations with Ocean Palms parent Krista Joseph. Joseph ran Ocean Palms’ Otter Running Club last year that had more than 120 participants. After her son, Charles Keating IV was killed in combat in May, Ocean Palms wanted to do something in his honor. Hero Field will eventually be a multi-purpose activity field with soccer, kickball, a weather station, possible gardens, an outdoor classroom space, a dedicated brick area with bench swings to honor heroes in our community and a dedicated path for walking and running. Funds for this renovation have already been designated by the Ocean Palms PTO.

Photo courtesy Abby Stanford

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