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St Valentine's Day Project Recognized



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St Valentine’s Day Project Recognized

By Eliza Hallabeck

The cafeteria in Reed Intermediate School was full of support for the St Valentine’s Day Project, which sent more than 2,500 valentines to soldiers overseas this year, on Friday, February 27.

During the event, Reed Intermediate School Principal Donna Denniston said the people who participated in putting the project together and the students who wrote the letters “gained as much as the people who we sent letters and packages to.”

People in attendance included First Selectman Joe Borst, Newtown’s State Representatives DebraLee Hovey and Christopher Lyddy, Senator John McKinney, and former state representative Julia Wasserman. Governor M. Jodi Rell also sent her congratulations for the event, but was not present.

In recognition of the effort of Newtown’s students, a citation from Representatives Hovey and Lyddy and Senator McKinney was given to Reed Intermediate School Assistant Principal Anthony Salvatore and St Valentine’s Day Chairperson Donna Monteleone-Randle in honor of the students.

Along with valentines, 50 CDs recorded by the sixth grade Reed Intermediate School volunteer chorus were sent overseas.

Students who participated in the St Valentine’s Day Project this year were from Sandy Hook School, Reed Intermediate School, the Newtown Middle School Student Council and Interact Club, the Middle Gate School’s RRD club, and Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops.

Letters of reply have been received from places including Afghanistan, Iraq, England, and Kuwait.

Students also talked during the ceremony to tell those gathered why the initiative to write valentines for soldiers was important to them.

“I love writing letters,” said Reed Intermediate School student and Ms Monteleone-Randle’s daughter Marie Randle, “because it makes me feel like I am doing something good for someone else.”

Another student who talked during the ceremony was Newtown Middle School Student Council President Rachel DiVanno.

“Through the valentines we were able to stress the importance of our Army to the student body,” Rachel said.

Legislative Council member and the Vice President of Global Public Affairs for World Wrestling Entertainment Gary Davis spoke about Reed Intermediate School’s participation with WWE’s Tribute To The Troops television special, where the students wrote letters to be brought overseas to troops by WWE stars.

A portion of the Tribute To The Troops special was shown for the people present at the event on Friday.

“It’s a humbling experience to see what our men and women over there are enduring,” Mr Davis, who has made previous trips with Tribute To The Troops, said.

He said when he was asked to get students to write letters within ten days to be sent overseas with WWE stars, he thought it was lucky he lives in Newtown, because nothing is impossible for residents in Newtown. He got in touch with Ms Monteleone-Randle, and with the help of Dr Salvatore, letters were written by Reed Intermediate School students over the course of two days.

Reed Intermediate School teacher and Interact Club advisor Al Finelli put together a slide show for the event that combined students reactions with letters that were sent back from troops overseas.

Some of the letters traveled more than 6,000 miles, according to the slide show.

“The power of people coming together,” said Dr Salvatore during the event. “That is what we are witnessing today.”

Ms Monteleone-Randle said the best part of the event on Friday was getting to thank everyone for their participation.

Flowers were also given out to former and present service personnel who were in attendance.

“I am so proud the 2,500 letters came from Newtown, Conn., to support our troops,” Mr Lyddy said while he and Ms Hovey were recognizing the town with the citation.

First Selectman Joe Borst concluded the event with an “old Marine salute.”

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