MERIDEN — Instead of having the day off from school Monday, students at Our Lady of Mount Carmel school celebrated family members who served in the military.
U.S. Naval Chief Michelle Belcher-Felton visited the school and shared highlights from a 20-year career beginning with boot camp in Great Lakes, Illinois. She then moved on to the Defense Language Institute in Monterrey, California, where she learned Chinese, and then to the National Security Agency in Fort Meade, Maryland.
Belcher-Felton is also the mother of Malachi Felton, a second-grader at Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
“It makes me so proud,” Belcher-Felton said about addressing the students on the day Veterans Day was observed. “I’m proud to serve and proud to share with them.”
Our Lady of Mount Carmel staff and administration stepped in to help the family last year when it appeared Belcher-Felton would be deployed to Africa. The orders were rescinded, bringing relief to her family and the school community, but she still goes to Maryland one weekend a month as a reservist.
Principal Christa Chodkowski asked students to share photos of family members. She received more than 60, and on Monday the children were treated to a slide show of all the pictures and names of their family members.
The program was aimed at teaching children about the sacrifices veterans make.
“All of the (public) schools in Meriden are closed,” Chodkowski said. “Our children will benefit from understanding what it means to be a veteran and serve our country.”
Maddox Dow, a fourth-grader, shared that his great-grandfather, Nick Volo, served on the front lines in the Army during World War II. Dow’s uncle, Peter Dow, recently retired after 25 years in the military.
“My grandfather drove tanks and his platoon was hidden from the Nazis by a French priest,” said Maddox’s mother, Melissa Dow. “His uncle built bombs for the Navy and taught them how to build bombs.”
Cheshire Public Schools also annually remain open on Veterans Day. The practice started several years ago.
Berlin Public Schools were also open Monday for the eleventh straight year.
“We have veterans that visit all of our schools today,” said Berlin Superintendent Brian Benigni.