NORTHFIELD — Michael Clampffer flew in from his home in Seattle, Wash., to help his family recover from Hurricane Sandy.
But on Friday, the Air Force veteran found himself a guest of honor at the Northfield Community School’s annual Veterans Day tribute. His niece, Tia Randolph, a student at the school, had interviewed him for the program and made a poster display. Because he was in town, he was invited to participate.
“This was absolutely awesome,” he said. “I have never seen a program like this.”
Now in its fifth year, the program honors local veterans and gives students a chance to learn more about family members or local residents who served, or about famous veterans such as former Presidents John F. Kennedy and Gerald Ford, and Gens. Colin Powell and Douglas MacArthur. The projects teach research skills and history.
Seventh-graders created poster displays about veterans that lined the gymnasium Friday and will be placed in local businesses through November.
Local veterans who could attend were introduced by their student hosts. As each was applauded, designated students held up signs thanking them for their service. Clampffer found his after the program so he could take it home.
Matthew Illingworth proudly explained that his father, Jim, was a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Special Operations during Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom.
“That’s one of the hardest things to get into,” he said. “I am proud to be his son.”
Presenters stood behind a display of boxes decorated to look like an American flag. Each box contained personal items for the troops collected by students and presented to Lou Tomsick of the American Recreation Military Service, or ARMS.
“This is a little bit of home for them,” Tomsick told the students. “Boxes go out every week.”
The school’s National Junior Honor Society raises money for Honor Flight, which brings veterans to Washington, D.C., to visit the war monuments. Teacher Mary Ann Devine, who coordinates the school’s veterans program, said students raised $900 last year from bake sales to send local veterans on the trip.
Eighth-graders Mark Gianntonio and Brandon Kintish and sixth-graders Matthew Lischin and Gabe Arena played taps, and students sang “Proud to Be An American.”
Local veteran Robert Webb surprised Devine with a plaque thanking her for her passion and dedication to veterans.
“This lady has shown us that you care for veterans,” he told the students.
Veterans honored at the event included: Robert Webb, Roy Gibson, Bob Burness, Louis Nirenberg, Frank Pagano, Thomas Johnson, Louis Jacques, Barry Walker, Howard Ogden, Michael Clampffer, Joe Landi, Paul Newman, Jim Illingworth, Henry Obergfell, Bernie Garbowski, Robert May and Dennis Stormes.
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