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Bostian Elementary celebrates veterans with songs, refreshments and painted rocks

CHINA GROVE — First-grade students at Bostian Elementary School filled the media center with patriotic songs Wednesday morning as they serenaded a crowd of local veterans.

It was one of several service projects at the school as part of Bostian’s plan for “renewal” — a districtwide initiative that will give individual schools more flexibility — said Principal Lisa Signmon.

For example, the fifth-graders will create “thank you bags” for local police officers and firefighters. Fourth-graders have started a “kindness revolution” project. Kindergartners will travel to the post office and send letters.

The projects, Signmon said, allow teachers to tie real-world experiences to lessons instead of relying only on what’s in a textbook.

On Wednesday, the first-graders put on a miniature play, sang songs, served cookies and drinks to veterans, and presented them with painted rocks.

First-grader Tensley Helms said she learned about different types of rocks leading up to the presentation, which her great-grandparents, Don and Frances Hegler, attended. Don is an Army veteran.

“We learned about sedimentary, metamorphic and all of that stuff,” Helms said.

First-grade teacher Emily Hinson said lessons also included talking about what exactly a veteran is. Hinson said that honoring those who served shouldn’t be limited to Veterans Day and that it’s important for students to learn about history. It’s important for students to show kindness toward local veterans, too.

“There’s just so much bad in the world, and today we wanted to do something positive,” Hinson said.

Tensley said she enjoyed the miniature play best of Wednesday’s events and that she decorated her rock with a star and the words “Thank you.”

“I enjoyed it because I know that we were going to honor the veterans,” she said.

And it was clear veterans in attendance, several of whom were family members of the student performers, appreciated it, too.

James Bostian, who served in the Navy as a radioman for a fuel ship during the Vietnam era, welled up with emotion as the students sang. Bostian said afterward that it was an entirely different reception from what he received when returning to the U.S. in 1972.

Bostian said he did not physically serve in Vietnam but was associated with the war and treated poorly following his return.

“It’s night and day between now and then. This really means a lot,” he said. “It makes you feel good that people today thank you for your service.”

Earl Atwell, who flew B-52 bombers in the Air Force, echoed Bostian’s sentiments, saying Wednesday’s presentation “makes you feel good. It makes you feel appreciated.”

Contact editor Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4248.

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