Williams Elementary School honors first responders

Williams Elementary School students displaying their support for first responders during the school’s Hearts for Heroes program. (contributed photo)

Hearts for Heroes program presented by students

by Mandi Favreau

On January 24, Williams Elementary School, in Oakland, celebrated local first responders with a special Hearts for Heroes event.

The entire school came together in a community assembly to show their gratitude and appreciation for local responders and all they do to keep us safe. Members of the Oakland Police Department, Oakland Fire Department, Belgrade Fire Department, Rome Fire Department, Kennebec County Sheriff’s Department, and Delta Ambulance were welcomed into WES through an elaborate balloon archway.

Some of the students with first responders who attended the event. (contributed photo)

“This event was wonderful,” said school board member Laura Tracy. “From the moment we walked in the door, we could feel the excitement and enthusiasm from the kids as well as the adults. I was also pleased to see that our schools are teaching students to be appreciative, respectful and most of all, to honor others for acts of service.”

Each grade had a special role in the ceremony. The fourth-grade students sang songs, specially chosen by music teacher Amy Peterson, to honor these men and women for their service. The three songs were T-H-A-N-K Y-O-U, Gratitude Attitude and We Appreciate you, all by Teresa Jennings.

“Throughout the preparation, the students kept up an energy level that clearly demonstrated their excitement for being able to thank our first responders through music,” said Mrs. Peter­son. “We are so fortunate to have these incredible men and women keeping our community safe, Thank you again to all of our area first responders. We definitely have a “Gratitude Attitude” for you!”

The fifth-grade students read beautiful, heartfelt poems they had written about “What Makes a Hero,” in order to show their appreciation, and the third-grade students gifted each guest with a heart they had made under the guidance of art teacher Ellen Gronlie. The hearts illustrated why first responders hold such a special place in the students’ hearts. All of the presentations were a hit with their special guests.

“I thought it was great,” said Dave Coughlin, a member of the Oakland Fire Department, “The enthusiasm of the kids and the work they put into the event, the poems and songs – it was all very well received by the first responders.”

WES will also mail out scrapbooks they created with copies of the student artwork and poetry for each department to keep and share with colleagues who were not able to attend the event. After the presentations, guests mingled and enjoyed snacks, and students were able to have their pictures taken with their favorite heroes in front of a special photo booth.

Police Chief Mike Tracy was in attendance both as a board member and as the head of the Oakland Police Department. He thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to interact with the students and staff. “The Hearts for Heroes event at the Williams School was simply incredible! It was very obvious that everyone put a lot of time and effort into the day’s activities,” said Chief Tracy. “All of the first responders that I spoke with, while at the school and after the event, were touched by the Hearts for Heroes experience! Thank you all so much for everything!”

The Hearts for Heroes event was funded by the RSU #18 Lifestyles Team Gratitude Grant, which is designed to encourage teaching the values of being gracious, thankful, and giving.

 
 

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