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Students Honor National Guard Soldiers at Thanksgiving Assembly

Nov. 20, 2007 — The students and teachers of Juanita Gardine Elementary School on St. Croix filed into the school auditorium for a special Thanksgiving show Tuesday afternoon, giving seasonal thanks for family, community and Thanksgiving feasts, and a special thanks to V.I. National Guard soldiers in other countries.
"This time of thanksgiving we feel it was very fitting we show our thanks to the National Guard and to all members of the armed forces," Mills said. "We pray for them as they continue to carry out their duties overseas."
The bleachers were filled with young children clad in the pink tops and burgundy bottoms of the Juanita Gardine uniform. Seeming always on the edge of breaking into roughhousing and play, the children were periodically called back into line by Principal Carmen Mills or teacher Claire Samuel.
"Second graders, quiet down or we are not going on," Samuel said once or twice, whenever the level of jumping around began to grow, directing the lively throng of young charges with a few choice words and a tone of voice the naturally rambunctious children recognized and obeyed.
Drawings of turkey, pumpkins and fruits of the autumnal harvest were cut out and pasted up in the school. The children came up on the auditorium stage class by class: first kindergartners, then first graders, on through sixth grade, fulfilling a childhood rite all Americans remember from youth. Each class in turn came up and performed poems, songs and skits in honor of the season.
The sixth graders read letters they wrote thanking soldiers of the V.I. National Guard who are in Iraq this holiday season.
"Don't think the letters are just a small thing," Mills said. "To them it's not small — it's very important. Any token they receive they are definitely grateful for. They will probably keep your letter as a keepsake forever. So show them you love them and that we are praying for their safe return home."
A small group of V.I. National Guard soldiers were in the audience and were called, one by one, up to the stage, as the children shouted and cheered. Several were members of the Guard's Counter Drug Task Force Drug Demand Reduction Program. They come into every public elementary school in the territory to teach their bimonthly character-building and drug-resistance course, so the children know them personally. Command Sgt. Major Barry Fredericks, the senior enlisted man in the V.I. National Guard, offered a few words of thanks.
The students presented a collection of care packages destined to V.I. soldiers overseas to Spc. Shermaine Richards, who is home on rest-and-relaxation leave for the holidays. Brow Soda, Power Malt, Anna's Hot Sauce, home-canned, locally grown gooseberry and tamarind stew and other items that might weather the journey and remind the soldiers of home were stacked up on the stage. They will be boxed up and shipped as care packages for individual soldiers. (See "V.I. Soldiers to Get Taste of Home for Thanksgiving.")
""Being home, it kind of gives you back your sanity," Richards said when the event was over. "Knowing you have family and friends here who miss you means a lot."
Richards said she was most thankful to be able to see her young daughter this holiday. Richards returns to Iraq sometime in December, she said.
After all the poems were read, songs sung and gifts given, teachers quietly corralled and herded their small, pink-shirted flocks back to class and the auditorium, filled with children's shouts and laughter and the authoritative commands of teachers just shortly before, fell silent until the next gathering.
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Nov. 20, 2007 -- The students and teachers of Juanita Gardine Elementary School on St. Croix filed into the school auditorium for a special Thanksgiving show Tuesday afternoon, giving seasonal thanks for family, community and Thanksgiving feasts, and a special thanks to V.I. National Guard soldiers in other countries.
"This time of thanksgiving we feel it was very fitting we show our thanks to the National Guard and to all members of the armed forces," Mills said. "We pray for them as they continue to carry out their duties overseas."
The bleachers were filled with young children clad in the pink tops and burgundy bottoms of the Juanita Gardine uniform. Seeming always on the edge of breaking into roughhousing and play, the children were periodically called back into line by Principal Carmen Mills or teacher Claire Samuel.
"Second graders, quiet down or we are not going on," Samuel said once or twice, whenever the level of jumping around began to grow, directing the lively throng of young charges with a few choice words and a tone of voice the naturally rambunctious children recognized and obeyed.
Drawings of turkey, pumpkins and fruits of the autumnal harvest were cut out and pasted up in the school. The children came up on the auditorium stage class by class: first kindergartners, then first graders, on through sixth grade, fulfilling a childhood rite all Americans remember from youth. Each class in turn came up and performed poems, songs and skits in honor of the season.
The sixth graders read letters they wrote thanking soldiers of the V.I. National Guard who are in Iraq this holiday season.
"Don't think the letters are just a small thing," Mills said. "To them it's not small -- it's very important. Any token they receive they are definitely grateful for. They will probably keep your letter as a keepsake forever. So show them you love them and that we are praying for their safe return home."
A small group of V.I. National Guard soldiers were in the audience and were called, one by one, up to the stage, as the children shouted and cheered. Several were members of the Guard's Counter Drug Task Force Drug Demand Reduction Program. They come into every public elementary school in the territory to teach their bimonthly character-building and drug-resistance course, so the children know them personally. Command Sgt. Major Barry Fredericks, the senior enlisted man in the V.I. National Guard, offered a few words of thanks.
The students presented a collection of care packages destined to V.I. soldiers overseas to Spc. Shermaine Richards, who is home on rest-and-relaxation leave for the holidays. Brow Soda, Power Malt, Anna's Hot Sauce, home-canned, locally grown gooseberry and tamarind stew and other items that might weather the journey and remind the soldiers of home were stacked up on the stage. They will be boxed up and shipped as care packages for individual soldiers. (See "V.I. Soldiers to Get Taste of Home for Thanksgiving.")
""Being home, it kind of gives you back your sanity," Richards said when the event was over. "Knowing you have family and friends here who miss you means a lot."
Richards said she was most thankful to be able to see her young daughter this holiday. Richards returns to Iraq sometime in December, she said.
After all the poems were read, songs sung and gifts given, teachers quietly corralled and herded their small, pink-shirted flocks back to class and the auditorium, filled with children's shouts and laughter and the authoritative commands of teachers just shortly before, fell silent until the next gathering.
Back Talk Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.