Times Tribune Editor
TROY — First graders at Silver Creek Elementary are making sure veterans know that their gratitude is felt.
For nearly a decade Kristi Hampton, first grade teacher at Silver Creek Elementary, has had her class write letters to veterans, while teaching the importance of gratitude for the sacrifices veterans have made. She said leading up to Veteran’s Day, her class discusses the definition of a veteran, the different branches of the military, and the importance of showing gratitude for their sacrifice. A note was sent home to parents asking for specific veterans that are in their child’s life (family member, friend, neighbor, etc.) and that veteran’s information. The child is then able to write a personalized letter to that veteran in their life. For students that do not have a specific veteran, they write letters to a veteran with whom Hampton has been given the information for. The class brainstorms ideas of what to write and then students choose from a collaborative list.
“Currently we are writing to about 60 veterans, however, we are still receiving names as our project continues to be shared on social media. We have written to veterans that live locally, veterans from multiple states, and even one that is currently serving overseas,” Hampton said. “That particular individual serving overseas was actually a first grade student of mine when I first began teaching, so it is very special that I now get to honor him with my current first grade students. We were also given the name of a veteran that is over 100 years old from Highland-the students thought that was amazing. Being able to recognize and show their appreciation for family and friends, as well as hearing the stories of specific individuals, has been an incredible experience for these students.”
Hampton said that thanks to social media they have been able to honor more veterans than ever.
“Each time we receive a new name, my students get so excited that they are begging to be the one to write that veteran a thank you letter,” Hampton said. “Their excitement is contagious and even though my students are very young, they are learning an impactful life lesson that I hope they carry with them for the rest of their lives. Learning the importance of honoring and thanking these amazing individuals that sacrificed so much is truly a rewarding experience to be a part of.”
Hampton discussed the importance of having students do an act of service.
“The concept of gratitude can sometimes be difficult for young children to comprehend, but by having them actually participate in an act of service, they are able to feel that they are making a difference and an impact in the lives of others,” Hampton said. “Within the classroom I am consistently emphasizing the importance of recognizing and showing our appreciation for others, so this project is a perfect opportunity to put those lessons into action.”
Hampton said that this project, which seeks to honor and thank veterans, is also her way of honoring her late grandfather, Ralph Hine, who was a veteran of the Army and received the Bronze Star for his service.
“Each year, this project allows my students to honor more veterans and for that I know my grandfather would be proud,” Hampton said, later adding, “It truly makes my heart so happy. This year was especially meaningful because we were able to show our appreciation for one of my former first grade students. Knowing that eventually this project will come full circle and the thought that one day the students that wrote letters this year might one day receive a letter, makes this experience that much more special.”
Hampton said the plan was to mail out the letters Thursday afternoon and mail one additional batch next week if any late requests come in.