Principal Welch and his son U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Andre Welch
As part of a recent lesson on the meaning of Veterans Day local Veterans visited East Street School to read to students and explain their service to our country. Some students were very curious about those soldiers who are serving overseas, while others indicated that they had family members or family friends who were deployed overseas; conversations that tugged at the heart of East Street Principal, Mr. Thomas Welch.
Welch explained, “ My son, Andre Welch, is a 2nd Lt. in the Army, stationed at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas and has been serving with the 1st Armored Division outside of Mosul, Iraq since the end of August. After hearing the voices of concern for our military, from our youngest students in Ludlow, I thought with the holidays right around the corner it would not only be a nice gesture for our school to send cards of well wishes to our troops, but it would also be a great opportunity to teach our students about spreading kindness to others.”
To bring his idea to fruition, Principal Welch elicited the help of East Street Art teacher extraordinaire, Mrs. Gloria Walker. Walker seized the opportunity to not only have students create their own personal and unique cards, but also to have discussions with students about the meaning of the word hero.
“We talked about the fact that heroes can be ordinary people doing extraordinary things and that heroes can be found everywhere,” shared Walker. “We also discussed how each of them can also be a hero by being nice to a peer on the playground or helping someone who is struggling.”
When the artistic design of the cards were finished Walker asked the students to think of something about themselves that they could share with the service men and women who would be receiving their cards. “I explained about the possible connections they could make with their words,” said Walker. “We wrote verbatim inside the card what each student wanted to say. For example - I like chocolate chip cookies, I have a dog named Leroy. All of the messages were very sweet!”
At the end of three days Walker reports that nearly 350 handmade cards, with personalized messages, were created by all of the students at East Street School. The cards were placed in a box, but before sealing the package to send to Lt. Welch’s unit in Iraq, Principal Welch included a letter that read in part- “While you’re away from your families during this holiday season please know that you are in our thoughts and prayers. Remember how important you are to all of us back home and note that the youngest of our citizens look up to all of you as their heroes. I’m sure you’ll find the cards thoughtful, expressive, and from the heart. We all appreciate your service to our country.”
1st grade students proudly showing their homemade cards.