Seventh Graders at West Essex Middle School recognized their heroes and talked about the community service volunteer work they conducted at the annual Hero Day Assembly February 12 at West Essex Middle School.
Relatives, teachers, and professional athletes were just some of the heroes that were featured in a Hero Day Slide Show. Some students read essays about their heroes. In health and physical education classes, students learned eight important character traits: respect, trust, fairness, honesty, kindness, responsibility, tolerance and citizenship.
Physical education teacher and wrestling and football coach Michael Markey also shared his experiences dealing with a rare liver disease which does not have a cure. His emotional speech brought tears to many people in the audience. "It's OK to get knocked down, as long as you get back up," Mr. Markey told students. "You never know when your strength will be strength for someone else."
Several students also spoke about the volunteer community service work they conducted for their health and physical education classes.
Matthew Uhlendorf of Fairfield loves animals and decided to volunteer his time at the Mt. Pleasant Animal Shelter. He and his mother Lori Scarangella Uhlendorf noticed that the shelter needed a new washer/dryer. So Matthew asked people to donate $1 for each Sandy Hook victim and soon raised $1,100 for the new washer and dryer.
Alix Talkow of North Caldwell helped organize a soccer fundraiser which raised more than $13,500 for the hurricane victims this past December.
Dan Laible of Roseland spoke of his community service with his family, adopting a needy family with seven children and purchasing holiday gifts, coats and bedding for each of them. He and his family also donated food to a soup kitchen, he said.
In addition, Donna Stump, director of special services in Brick Township, commended West Essex Middle School for their "Build-a-Bin" project, which sent a van full of bins of supplies and gift cards to hurricane victims in Brick and the difference these things made in the lives of the hurricane victims there. "I am so very thankful to all of my friends at West Essex," Mrs. Stump told the auditorium full of students, teachers and heroes. "You make the world a better place. Thank you, thank you and thank you from the bottom of my heart!"
Afterwards, West Essex Middle School Principal David Montgomery thanked everyone for attending. "I love this assembly," he said. "If we want to raise good children and good human beings, if we want to be a good community, we have to model what we expect of our children."