Keeping with tradition, the students at I.S. 201, Dyker Heights Intermediate School, marked Veterans Day with a month-long celebration and capped off November with an extra special, now-annual visit to the Veterans Administration Medical Center next to Fort Hamilton.
On Monday, November 21, 15 eighth graders stopped by the hospital, located at 800 Poly Place, to drop off doughnuts, handwritten letters and school apparel, while spending a few hours.
“The veterans’ eyes lit up when the children came in,” said Joseph Gianni, a social studies teacher at I.S. 201. “They were glowing with excitement that these kids cared enough to spend the afternoon with them.”
Once finished playing board games, reading letters to and sharing stories with the veterans, Gianni said, the students did not want to go.
“Many of them enjoyed the time spent with the veterans so much that they want to volunteer on a regular basis at the hospital to help,” he said, adding that, throughout the course of the month, the entire student body – with help from staff and faculty – was able to raise enough money to buy Thanksgiving dinner for all 35 veterans they visited.
“It was the least we can do for these men, who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom,” said Gianni.
The school’s principal Robert Ciulla agreed.
“Dyker Heights I.S. 201 will always be grateful and do all we can to support our veterans,” said Ciulla.
The day after the visit, officials at the VA sent Gianni and his students a handwritten letter from the veterans, in which they thanked the students for “caring for veterans.”
“It’s good to know that there are people who really care,” the letter read.
I.S. 201 plans on visiting the VA next month as well, and, according to Gianni, will once again raise funds – this time, to provide Christmas dinner.