NUTLEY, NJ - For over a decade, JD Vick has devoted his life to Nutley High School as an educator and coach.
He's also been a big advocate for the United States Military, and every Veterans Day, has put together a program to honor local veterans.
Such was the case this past Nov. 12, when the Nutley High School Patriot Club once again put together a stirring program, with the help of some first graders at Yantacaw School and the high school's club members.
"I've always had a great deal of respect for our veterans," said Vick. "Patriotism is very special to me, and I'm so proud of the kids who help make our program a success every year."
This was the sixth annual Nutley High Patriot Club Veterans Day program.
"We want to thank everyone who helped make our program a huge success," said Vick. "It was a pleasure to work again with, the USO Show Troupe NYC, Honor Flight, Frank Malanga and Premium Color, Michael Turro and PanaVid Inc., Sean Krygelo and Advanced Lighting Concepts, Ms. Diana Rambaldi's class from Yantacaw Elementary School, Mr. Stephon Gaines and the NHS Chamber Singers, Mr. Denis Williams, Gary and Ericka Ellerbusch, Joe Dennis, Mike Padilla, Lou Raffaelli, Mike Stoffers, James Riley, Henry Meola, the Nutley High custodians, Joey Capella, the NHS Patriot Club members, Nutley Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and everyone who gave of their time."
Denis Williams, Nutley High's principal, did an excellent job of announcing all the veterans who were in attendance. The veterans, many of whom served in the Korean and later Vietnam conflicts, as well as Operation Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom and in peacetime, were awarded medals at the ceremony by a Patriot Club member, as well as receiving a gift from a first grader, in very heartfelt moments as the large audience applauded.
"It was probably the most veterans we've had at one of our programs," said Vick. "My dad was in the Army, and he taught me a great deal about what the vets have done to preserve our freedoms. It's special when our young club members see what our veterans have done and the sacrifices they made.
"We also want to thank the Stan Novak and the Knights of Columbus, Eileen Painter and the Nutley Family Service Bureau, NHS Culinary and all who help provide dinner for our veterans."
Members of the Patriot Club are Jack Kirk, Alexander French, Brydan Alvarez, Cameron Schilp, Christopher Carnovale, Daniel Holler, Gerard Demaio, Jake O’Connor, James Joyce, Karam Youssef, Matthew Harbison, Ryan O’Connor, Vincent DeMaio, Michael Beck, Rocco Della Luna, Michael Beck, Matthew De Olivera, Louis Raffaelli, Julio Takemoto, Joshua Koehler, Jake Slader, Gerardino Dellafera, Aleksandar Zonic, Adam Benali, Tyler Loch, Dante Contella, Frankie Contella, Johnny Montrona, Frankie Montrona, Vinny Miller, Nicholas Schroeder. Joseph Benenato, Charles Hannon, Nicholas Scotti, Daniel Reyes, Richard Parronett, Keith Morrison, Joseph McLaughlin, Mathew Liardi, Ryan Gencarelli and Elija Calixto.
"Ms. Diana Rambaldi’s first grade class from Yantacaw Elementary School were wonderful, too," said Vick.
Those students included Jake Rambaldi, Cole Rambaldi, Thomas Churchill, Harry Imamoglu, Emily Roman, Michael Bartoszek, Nolan Ziek, Joshua Barone, Charlotte Veneziano, Eric Padala, Joseph Malizia, Savannah Dodds, Riya Vishnoi, Mallory Simons, Kaiya Snowdon and Ben Snowdon.
Four talented singers from the USO Show Troupe, NYC, provided inspirational patriotic songs, in an Andrews Sisters, 1940's format.
The program's conclusion was a video of Patriot Club members at the Tomb of the Unknown Solder, in Washington, DC, presenting a wreath in early 2018.
"Our kids took that very seriously," said Vick. "They were determined to get their steps down perfectly, as they proceeded to the Tomb, with the assistance of the Honor Guard."
Vick feels the veterans appreciated that the youngsters respected their service.
"America is a great country," said Vick. "And our veterans certainly are a reason why it is. The veterans would like to know that the next generation knows what they did, and I think our kids relate to that very well." Vick concluded.
Since 2016, TAPintoNutley.net has been the only locally owned news organization serving the Township of Nutley, and is a member of the New Jersey Press Association. The Nutley Board of Commissioners made TAPintoNutley.net the township's 'Official Electronic News Source' starting in 2019.
Got a news tip? email us at Nutley@TAPinto.net