With Memorial Day approaching, Bay Ridge students showed their appreciation to military service members through the gift of art.
On Wednesday, May 13, students and faculty of I.S. 259 William McKinley, 7301 Fort Hamilton Parkway, made their way to Brooklyn Borough Hall for the Pop-Art Show, a display of art that paid homage to veterans created by the school’s eighth grade class.
“They’ve been working with veterans basically the entire year and as a school, we have a civic obligation to the children to share with them what’s out there,” said the school’s principal, Janice Geary. “We don’t want them to take anything for granted. So when they meet the veterans and talk to them and hear their experience, they appreciate all that they’ve done for us.”
The students’ teachers were also pleased with the students’ work, which took several months to complete. “The kids learn (about war) in books, but to actually see a living veteran and to see that they share experiences like they did when they were kids and how they went to Vietnam, Korea and all these places, they are able to understand the sacrifices that they made for us to be able to live the way that we do,” said teacher Leah Haller. “They did amazing work. They loved it. Coming here is great because they just want to honor them. They’re thrilled their artwork is being displayed and it’s a bond they have with veterans”
Veterans also attended the event to view the students’ artwork, and talk to them about freedom.
“It’s very meaningful for them to show some patriotism to the veterans,” said Korean War veteran Vincent C. Sampieri. “This is our future here so they should know the history of our country and all the privileges that they have and all the dedicated heroes that never came home so they could have this freedom. The art is beautiful. It’s terrific what all the young people are doing. That’s the pride of our country, these children.”
Veteran Bobby Ollis spoke to the children and discussed his son, Michael, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2013. “It keeps my son’s memory alive. I hope they take a little bit of what I say and bring it into life and I really think that we have to be more conscious of our younger generation.”
Borough President Eric Adams and Councilmember Vincent Gentile were also on hand to discuss the importance of celebrating veterans.
“No person or body of people signifies our home than the men and women of the military,” said Adams. “They are defending the principles that we all live here no matter who we are.”
Students took much out of the event, according to student Saleh Zaghari. “It’s special to create these pictures and spend the day and interact with veterans and learn how they struggled and how we’re benefitting from it,” he said.