WARREN, NJ - Christine Smith, Principal of Angelo L. Tomaso (ALT) School,  along with students, staff and special visitors, gathered together in front of the school to watch as the students raised the American flag for the day on Wednesday, September 11.

In anticipation of Patriot Day, Smith coordinated a very special morning at ALT which included Kelly Backus, the instrumental music teacher singing  the National Anthem during ALT’s Live News broadcast.

 “Every September 11, our nation recognizes Patriot Day, the National Day of Service, in honor of those who commit to serving others. To join in this recognition, ALT welcomed some of our local heroes to salute the flag as our third-grade students completed their daily routine of raising it,” Smith explained.

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In attendance were, from the Warren Township Police Department, Officer Jeffrey Sohler and Sergeant Robert Ferreiro, Warren Township Schools employees Michele Gonnella, Donald Strickland, volunteer firefighters from the Warren Township Fire Department, and Ronald Budis, US Army Veteran of the 82nd Airborne Division.

The visitors joined several classes during their morning meeting where students could get to know more about their roles as police officers, firemen, and military personnel. The children eagerly asked questions and excitedly took part in the getting-to-know-you activities with them.


In Francesca Frosoni's third grade class, the children expressed many heartfelt reasons about why they were proud to be in America and several students shared that they were proud to have freedom and many caring people to keep them safe!


"The pride I felt this Patriot's Day having Sergeant Ferreiro join us during morning meeting was indescribable and a wonderful treat for our students.  We all felt proud to be Americans" exclaimed Frosoni.  


Warren Township Schools’ employees, Gonnella, Strickland and Budis were honored to be included in the event and so impressed by the caring spirit of the teachers and paraprofessionals and the thoughtful questions and comments from the students.  Gonnella, a Warren Township firefighter for the last 22 years hopes to inspire children within the Warren Township Schools as well as his own children to give back to their communities. Gonnella explained, “heroes come in many different forms, nurses, firefighters, members of the military, police officers, doctors, etc. but the one thing each of those individuals has in common is a willingness to respond during an emergency. Sometimes you can’t think, you just act.”


All three men were able to recall the point in their lives when they decided to make it their mission to help others. For Budis, it was a moment during his junior year of high school when he decided he would enlist in the US Army after graduation.  Strickland knew he wanted to become a firefighter after seeing the many volunteers and community members who came together to aid his family after they experienced a house fire.  As for Gonnella, he feels like he always had the desire to help those in need but he was particularly inspired by a neighbor during his childhood who was a firefighter.


Each one of these brave men,  like so many other women and men, has sacrificed their own personal safety and time to help keep their communities safe.  For more information about the Warren Township Volunteer Fire Departments visit http://www.warrenfire.org/.  



Pictures courtesy of Warren Township Schools


1. From left to right, from the Warren Township Police Department, Officer Jeffrey Sohler and Sergeant Robert Ferreiro and Warren Township Schools employees Mr. Michele Gonnella, Mr. Donald Strickland and Mr. Ronald Budis stand proudly as the American Flag is raised on Wednesday, September 11 at Angelo L. Tomaso School in Warren, NJ.  


2. Special visitors from the Warren Township Police Department, Officer Sohler and Sergeant Ferreiro along with Warren Township Schools’ employees, Mr. Ronald Budis, US Army Veteran, and volunteer firefighters, Mr. Donald Strickland and Mr. Michele Gonnella take a moment to stand with the grade 3 students Aayan Shah, William Hadfield, Christopher Molina, Nicholas Guerra, Constantin Bellman, Marc Shah and Mehreen Hussain who raised the American Flag on Wednesday, September 11 at Angelo L. Tomaso School.


3. Sergeant Robert Ferreiro takes a moment to share a sweet hug with his daughter, Stella Ferreiro, a kindergarten student at Angelo L. Tomaso School on Patriot Day.