MONTVILLE, NJ – In the first days of a new school year, the students of William Mason Elementary School gathered in the school’s all-purpose room to say thank you to eight of Montville Township’s first responders.

The school’s annual Patriots Day ceremony was held on Friday, Sept. 9. Isaam Gaber, a fifth grade student led the student body in the “Pledge of Allegiance.” Following the pledge, all 260 students sang “God Bless America.”

“Patriots Day is September 11, and it serves as a reminder to thank the heroes in our country,” said Hadley White, a fifth grade student. “Without them our lives would be very different.”

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White and Gaber were joined in the tributes to first responders by classmates Klaudia Ivankovic, Sophia Kalliaras, Payton McKillips, Aidan Sabet and Luke Tlusty. Each student thanked firefighters, police officers, emergency medical technicians and members of the military.

“These heroes and many others are the ones that respond when there is a fire, robbery, natural disaster or other tragedy,” Klaudia Ivankovic said, adding: “Yet they still find a smile to calm someone else.”

Ivankovic concluded by addressing the first responders in attendance, “Today William Mason wants to recognize and thank each of you.” 

The eight Montville Township first responders who attended the Patriot’s Day event stood as each presenter said thank you.

The Montville Township first responders who attended the Patriots Day event included: Montville Fire Department - Firefighter Brielle Cook, Firefighter Carol DaCosta, Montville Township First Aid Squad - Ricky Klein Jr., Nick Krentz, Kate Zeringo, Jackie D'Amico, Art Daughtry and Montville Township Police Department - Patrolman Scott McGowan.

Firefighter DaCosta, who was a volunteer first responder to Ground Zero on September 11, 2001, then spoke with the students about the kindness she experienced on 9/11. She told the students that New Yorkers came to help first responders at that site of the World Trade Center bombings.

“The one thing I remember the most about that day is those people who took time out of their day to help us [the first responders],” DaCosta said.

She explained to the students that volunteers brought food and supplies to help keep the first responders fed, hydrated, and stocked with medical supplies.

Many people gave hugs to DaCosta and other first responders on that day. She served at Ground Zero with first responders from Oklahoma and around the world.

“Many people said God Bless you and God Bless America,” DaCosta noted.

School Counselor Teresa Gorgia encouraged all students to say thank you to firefighters, police officers, EMTs and military personnel for keeping the Montville Township community safe. She also noted how powerful kindness is, and asked students to share kindness in the school’s hallways in honor of Patriot’s Day and everyday.

Cards of thanks were presented to the first responders of Montville who were in attendance.

“It was a wonderful ceremony,” DaCosta said later. “It means a lot to us to be able to come and visit the kids and be honored like that.”