Bay Village students honor, learn from veterans

Marine Captain Mike Petro (Bay High Class of 2006) with his parents, John and Helen Petro. Mrs. Petro is a Bay High teacher.

Bay Village Schools students, from kindergarten to seniors in high school, continued the district's fine tradition of honoring our veterans on Veterans Day.

Normandy Elementary students brought in their veteran dads, moms, aunts, uncles, grandfathers and grandmothers for a ceremony and parade honoring them all. This followed weeks of activities where students in kindergarten through second grade learned about the tremendous service and sacrifice of our military heroes.

Students in third and fourth grade at Westerly Elementary brought in photos and stories about their family veterans to create a “Wall of Stars” honoring the fight for freedom.

Ninety-three-year-old Mike Kevesdy, a veteran of the Battle of the Bulge and recipient of the Bronze Star for saving the lives of 200 men, spoke to sixth-graders in his nephew Mark Kevesdy’s class at Bay Middle School.

Navy Commander Greg Schell (Bay High Class of 1981) and Marine Captain Mark Petro (Bay High Class of 2006) shared their stories with Bay High social studies students who now sit in the same classrooms where the veterans once learned.

Mark Petro was deployed during two campaigns in Afghanistan as well as in South America,. He said that his teachers at Bay High gave him a great deal of support when he applied for an ROTC scholarship to Miami University. “I remember going over to Mrs. Grabo’s house and asking her to read over my application, to make sure it sounded right,” he said.

Petro also brought samples of MRE’s, or field rations, that he said had been packaged for “at least 10 years, and will be good for at least 10 more years.” This was the type of food the soldiers usually ate. “We ate, not to enjoy food, but to get calories and energy,” he said, noting that the meals often provided 2,000 to 3,000 calories each. A helmet, protective vest and other gear demonstrated the heavy weight that soldiers need to carry, an uncomfortable but necessary burden in hot climates.

He hoped the students who heard him speak left with a more realistic perception of what military service is about. “It’s more than fighting,” he said. “We help people. We drill wells so they have clean water to drink and to grow their food. We want to break the hold that an enemy, the Taliban, the poppy growers or whoever, have on a community. ”

Greg Schell, who is a civil engineer, spoke about the work he did in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina as well as other deployments overseas. He urged students to consider service to others as a career, whether it be the military, teaching, or some other vocation that would let them be part of an effort bigger than themselves. “You can go out and make a lot of money,” he said. “And you can look back and see a pile of big paychecks. But consider working to serve, so you can look back and say you truly made a difference.”

Karen Derby

Director of Communications for the Bay Village City School District

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Volume 7, Issue 22, Posted 9:08 AM, 11.17.2015