Staten Island School Saluted for Serving, Supporting Veterans

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Students at St. Adalbert’s School do all they can to support and honor our nation’s military veterans. And while the school doesn’t do it for glory, honors are coming just the same. The Staten Island school was recently named a recipient of the Innovations in Education Award by Today’s Catholic Teacher magazine.

Twelve Catholic schools nationwide were selected to receive the annual award, which was to be presented March 30 in San Diego. St. Adalbert’s was the only winner from the archdiocese.

“It means so much because it’s for our work with veterans and that is where our heart is,” said principal Diane Hesterhagen in an interview with Catholic New York March 23.

Since 2009, St. Adalbert’s students have interviewed local veterans and compiled their stories into books. They are working on their fifth volume. They also participate in “Operation Toastie Tootsies” in which the students collect socks for homeless veterans.

Yearlong projects include cleaning local monuments and cemeteries, and putting flags on the graves of veterans. Students involved with the archdiocese’s Instructional Television program select military-themed topics for the News and Views show they create each year.

Every morning, students and faculty pray for the cause of canonization of Maryknoll Father Vincent Capodanno, a Navy chaplain killed in action during the Vietnam War. He was a posthumous recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor.

“This is something that is immersed into our school’s culture on a daily basis,” Mrs. Hesterhagen said.

Fifth-grader Jalen Sayaman said, “We are proud of our school and the projects that we do because they give us a chance to help the veterans who served our country. We are thankful for their service to America.”

To further commend the school, Dr. Timothy McNiff, superintendent of schools for the archdiocese, will attend a special ceremony on Wednesday, April 6, in which students in the Fife and Drum Corps will perform the POW/MIA ceremony and the school chorus will sing a selection of patriotic tunes.

“My feeling as principal is that patriotism is a key part of every school,” Mrs. Hesterhagen said. “If we as a school can shed some light for other people on veterans and their sacrifices, I…know we are doing good work with our children.

“The students’ enthusiasm, respect and sharing of the stories of our veterans will make Staten Island a more patriotic place than it already is,” she said.

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