Bedford seventh-grade Memorial Day Program draws crowd

Students from Ross A. Lurgio Middle School’s Pod 7 South this year presented their Memorial Day Program, a multi-media celebration of patriotism and gratitude to America’s veterans.

The program, presented on Thursday, May 22, in the theater at Bedford High School, drew an audience of veterans, the families of the performers and many friends. Assistance from the pod’s staff and other volunteers was abundant.

Georgia Brussard, of the language arts department, and Dave Stevener, of social studies, directed the production. Rob Dubreuil, science teacher, and Dianne Riehl, math teacher, won kudos for their intense participation, as did many others, teachers and parents, whose efforts resulted in a magnificent production.

The teachers were aided by student assistants: Emily Spencer, Jacob Statires and Michael Coble who helped ensure smooth transitions between more than two dozen of the show’s segments, portions featuring multi-media on-screen videos, dance, songs, poetry, essay recitations and other highlights.

Brussard later said it was the 16th anniversary of the Memorial Day presentation. She added that every student in the 106-student pod took on tasks such as writing poems about some facet of their study of Memorial Day, the theme of patriotism and the theme of citizenship.

“The Memorial Day presentation is the culminating project where students demonstrate what they have learned,” Brussard said. “Each year, the presentation is unique as the students use their talents and interests to form their own special performance.”

A group of 24 poets presented their poems to the audience. The themes were diverse. Gillian Simpson touched upon the terrorism attack of 9-11 and stressed “our spirit did not break.” Benji Zhang extolled the American Flag as our “symbol of liberty.” Emerson Cilley’s poem alluded to “the day we declared freedom from all of the Brits.”

Spectators included many veterans whose service was given in World War II, Korea, Vietnam and in other venues. Members of the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars made a fine presence in their uniforms and caps.

Bill “Spike” Donahue, the school’s resource officer for the Bedford Police department, said he was thrilled to see the enthusiasm of the crowd arriving for the performance.

“It’s neat to watch seventh grade doing so much about veterans,” Donahue said. “This is something they work on throughout the year. I enjoy being here and thanking every vet that comes in.”

Newly appointed town manager Steve Daly, who assumed the post in March, said he was not about to miss the performance. Daly’s son is a captain in the Army. Daly’s father was in the Navy and drove a landing craft. A brother-in-law is a staff sargent in the National Guard and his father-in-law was a fighter pilot in the Army Air Corps.

“This is my first time seeing this presentation,” Daly said. “I think it’s essential for the students to learn the value of having freedom.”

All who entered the theater surely came away with a memory that will be enduring. At times, a massive movie screen descended from the ceiling above the stage. The theater was darkened and images of joy and sorrow took turns in review. Clips of soldiers in faraway lands were shown. Young men and women wearing sand-scoured fatigues and burdened with their share of weaponry were depicted on the screen. Happy moments of reunion with husbands and wives embracing after long months away from each other drew smiles.

In another of the multi-media presentations on screen, a baby barely old enough looked up with wide eyes and held in a chubby hand a poster that stated, “I’ve waited my whole life to meet you, daddy.” An American Flag secured to a short, wooden stick was another of the baby’s accessories.

The conclusion of the program brought standing ovations as the performers took their bows. Later, as a sumptuous spread of a luncheon was enjoyed in the school’s library by anyone who could linger, many noticed the abundance of red, white and blue used in frosting accents on dozens of freshly baked cupcakes. Trays of cheeses, crackers, cookies and candies were offered by the luncheon committee.

Ed Joyce, principal of Ross A. Lurgio Middle School, quickly passed off any kudos about the magnificence of the production, its technical excellence and the high-caliber performances shown by the students. He instead spotlighted the veterans in attendance.

“It was touching that so many veterans joined us,” Joyce said. “We are very lucky. This presentation means the world to the kids. I’m so proud of them and I’m proud of the teachers, the volunteers and everyone making this day possible.”

For more information on the Memorial Day Program presented by the Pod 7 South team, call Ross A. Lurgio Middle School at 310-9100.