A UH-60 L/Blackhawk helicopter landed at Fuller Elementary School in Chowchilla Wednesday to kick off the annual Patriotic Assembly.
Five hundred-plus excited kindergarten, first and second grade students watched as the Blackhawk circled their campus and landed on the playground. The students were joined by approximately 500 family, friends and community members. Bringing the Blackhawk helicopter to Fuller from the Fresno Army National Guard were Pilot in Command Chief Warrant Officer 5 Gateway, Flying Pilot Major Baker and Crew Chief Sergeant Hernandez. They were accompanied by Staff Sergeant Torres.
Michelle Worrell welcomed the enthusiastic crowd to the assembly, which was held at the school’s new outdoor stage. Worrell said the program began 15 years ago on a much smaller scale and has gradually become more and more grand each year.
Chairing the Patriot Day Committee was first grade teacher Tricia Placencia. She noted that Fuller holds the assembly remembering 9/11 and celebrating Patriot Day and Citizenship Day each year to ensure that their students do not forget or take for granted those who sacrifice to keep America safe.
A special welcome was given to veterans, those in law enforcement and fire fighters.
The Color Guard from the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9896 and American Legion Post 148 presented the flag. Kindergarten students Tyler Roberts and Jacob Burns led the Pledge of Allegiance. Former Fuller student, Jaxon Powell sang the National Anthem.
In previous years, Fuller has been home to only first and second grade students. This year they added a large portion of the district’s kindergartners. Patriotism rang out loud and clear as all of the students contributed to the program by singing several patriotic songs as a group.
Ms. Hedberg’s and Mrs. Leham’s kindergarten classes performed a poem entitled, “Way Up in The Sky.” Kindergarten students in Ms. O’Neill’s class recited a poem called, “American Flag.”
First and second graders presented highlights from several historical moments and speeches in American history.
First grade students in Mrs. Boether’s and Mrs. Reed’s classes recited excerpts from a speech by Patrick Henry given on Mar. 23, 1775.
Mrs. Trujullo’s first graders presented excerpts from the Declaration of Independence from July 4, 1776.
The Preamble to the Constitution of the United States ratified on June 21, 1788, was presented by Mrs. Placencia’s first grade class.
Ms. Fosnaugh’s second grade class recited excerpts from President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg’s address given on Nov. 19, 1863.
First grade students in Mrs. Williams’ class presented excerpts from the first Inaugural Address of Franklin D. Roosevelt given on Mar. 4, 1933.
Mr. Williams and Mrs. Turner’s second graders recited excerpts from the Pearl Harbor Address to the Nation by Franklin D. Roosevelt given on Dec. 8, 1941.
Mrs. McIntyre’s second grade class presented excerpts from John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address given on Jan. 20, 1961.
First graders in Mrs. Mauthauda’s class recited excerpts from Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech given on Aug. 8, 1963.
Excerpts from a speech by Ronald Reagan given on June 12, 1987 were presented by second grade students in Mrs. Bryant’s class.
Mrs. Miller’s second graders recited excerpts from George W. Bush’s 9/11 address to the Nation on Sept. 11, 2001.
Additional excerpts from George W. Bush’s 9/11 address to the Nation was given by Ms. Bonner’s first grade class.
The final class to present was Mrs. Signorelli’s second grade class. They recited excerpts from a speech given by Barrack Obama following the death of Osama bin Laden, given on May 2, 2011.
Placencia said it was amazing what the students accomplished, especially when Wednesday was only the 16th day of the school year.
The guest speaker was Sergeant Stacy Burns. “I have heard so many say that America lost its innocence on Sept. 11, 2001,” she stated. “As I look out on these kindergarten, first- and second-grade faces, I see the innocence in our children’s faces and I believe we can preserve this innocence and regain that feeling of security we had as a nation before the tragedy of 9/11.”
One of the ways to accomplish that goal she noted was to teach young people to learn how to be a good citizen. Burns told the students that the adults in their lives were there to keep them safe and that those who are first responders whether it be a police officer, firefighter or a member of the armed forces have dedicated their lives to keeping them safe.
“Your teachers are dedicated to teaching you what you need to succeed in this grade and future grades,” she stated. She encouraged the students that even though they were young that they, too, could be good citizens. One way is to be a bucket filler. “Being a bucket filler is the beginning of being a good citizen,” she said. “Another way is to practice kindness daily.”
Finally, she said, students at Fuller School can be a good citizen by simply making good choices every day.
The assembly ended with the playing of Taps by Chowchilla High student Alize Velasco.
During the program Principal Worrell accepted presentations from Nickolas Gomes representing Congressman Jim Costa and from Diana Westmorelamd representing State Senator Anna Caballero.
Worrell also presented a plaque to Chowchilla VFW and the American Legion for their continued support of the Patriot Day Assembly. VFW Commander David Placencia and American Legion Commander John Kirwin accepted the plaques.