South Orangetown Central School District

In recognition of Memorial Day, Karen Sutton’s third-grade class led Cottage Lane Elementary School’s patriotism-themed assembly and honored Gold Star families presented by the Vetiquette program. CLE students and teachers honored the families of Army 1LT Louis E. Allen, USMC Corporal Steve Vahaviolos, Army Corporal Manny Lopez, Army CPT Philip T. Esposito, USMC LTCOL Michael Murphy, and USMA Cadet Christopher “CJ” Morgan last week as part of their character education assembly. The theme for May is “Communities Connect with One Another.”

 The event is part of an ongoing collaboration with Vetiquette, which teaches children about the sacrifices of veterans through projects and assemblies during which Gold Star families tell their stories. Each year, the names of selected fallen veterans from WWII to today are shared with South Orangetown Middle School seventh-grade social studies teacher Sarah Kukla. Her students research and write biographies for each veteran. The student-written biographies are then shared with CLE classes so they can create a quilt inspired by their life story. The quilts are gifted to each of the Gold Star families at the assembly to honor their memory.

 CLE assembly speakers included Vetiquette founder Maureen Kelly and the families of Michael Murphy, Christopher “CJ” Morgan, and Louis E. Allen. Annie Murphy, mother of Michael Murphy, visited Claire Eckert and Katrina Smith’s fourth-grade class prior to the assembly to answer questions they had about her son. Students asked her questions including what his favorite school subject was and his favorite hobbies. “I am so glad that you are all learning about the military and the importance of celebrating Memorial Day. Most people know very little about it. It’s important for everyone to understand the sacrifices our U.S. military members have made to protect our country,” said Annie Murphy.

CLE Memorial Day Assembly