Aubrielle Paskon likes to have her second graders at Cassell Park Elementary do “Thankful Thursdays,” a weekly expression of gratitude for something.
Many times, the Independence children know the recipient. For example, this week they wrote thank-yous to a classmate.
This year, thanks to an idea from a co-worker at a former job, she decided that a couple weeks ago that local veterans should receive thank you cards from some young fans for Veterans Day. She invited other teachers at Cassell Park to have their classes participate if they wanted, so all told the second graders and kindergartners produced about 120 cards, which got delivered earlier this week to the community center in Sugar Creek.
Paskon, who is in her fifth year of teaching and had been at Ott Elementary before switching to the new school this year, said she's had students do veteran thank-yous before in a less-direct project with the Veterans Administration.
“They loved doing it; we watched some information on Veterans Day and what it means,” Paskon said. “It's important for them to know who a veteran is. They've served our country to protect us, and they need to know the importance of that."
“But it's great because they also learn communication skills and learn to be thankful for things.”
Second grader Abreyah Barefield said she thanked her veteran “so much for helping our community be safe,” and also remembers that she and classmates like coloring the pictures.
One of her classmates, Troy Wright, said he remembers writing “'Thank you for protecting our country' and also 'Veterans are the best.'”
Wright said he has a family member on his mother's side of the family who's a veteran.
“They fight in wars for our country, and they're very nice people,” he said.
Some other students might have a veteran in their family, though Paskon said she had students write generic cards, rather than addressed to specific people.
“I told them if they wanted to, they could write a card to a family member in their free time,” she said.
Paskon said Veterans Day holds some personal meaning. Her grandfather was in the Navy serving in Hawaii during the Pearl Harbor attack 78 years ago, a cousin served in Iraq with the Army and her husband's father and brother served in the National Guard.
“We write ‘Thankful Thursday’ notes every single week, so this is one that is different,” Paskon said. “They were able to thank somebody they don't know rather than somebody they do know.”