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Grade 1: Veterans Day Interview

This year on Veterans Day, Grade 1 students in Tera Malyszko’s class got the special opportunity to virtually interview a Korean War veteran and Grade 1 student Robert C.’s great grandfather, Jack LeBlanc. 
Mr. LeBlanc is a veteran of the Korean War, an accomplished guitar player (he played the Grand Ole Opry with Hank Williams Jr.), and an entrepreneur. He has seven children, fourteen grandchildren, and thirteen great-grandchildren and “loves to talk with them and make them laugh as often as he can.”
Prior to the interview with Mr. LeBlanc, the Grade 1 students took several steps to prepare for their Veterans Day Zoom call. According to Grade 1 teacher Mrs. Malyszko, “The students have been learning about different branches of the armed forces, who a veteran is, why we celebrate Veterans Day, and when it started. As a Grade 1 class, we also started working on interviewing skills this month. Before the interview, the students learned background information about our guest, prepared thoughtful questions, and practiced with each other in the classroom.” 
During the Zoom call, the Grade 1 students proudly stood one by one and asked Mr. LeBlanc their interview questions, such as, “What job did you have in the army?”, “Did you go on any special missions?”, “What kind of training did you need?” and, “Did you make any good friends in the Army?” 
In addition to answering each of their questions, Mr. LeBlanc shared, “I enjoyed my time in the service because I knew I was doing it for my people back home. There’s nothing like America. You can go to any country in the world, and you will never, never, forget America. America is a wonderful country, and I know when your turn comes, you will take care of it.” 
After completing the activity, each of the Grade 1 students not only created a new intergenerational connection but also gained greater insight into the meaning of Veterans Day as a whole. According to Mrs. Malyszko, “Teaching students about veterans and Veterans Day is important because I want students to come away with a greater understanding of the holiday and gratitude for those that have served. I think it’s important to teach students about the bravery of our veterans and the work they have done to protect our country. While being developmentally appropriate for six and seven-year-olds, there are plenty of examples of bravery that we can share. Many students have relatives, friends, or neighbors who have served in the Armed Forces, and having that personal connection to a veteran makes it more meaningful for the students. I, too, have grandparents who were veterans, and my husband’s grandfather was a Purple Heart recipient. They all loved sharing stories of their past and proudly wore their veteran hats. They always appreciated when others asked questions or thanked them for their service.”

Graland Country Day School

Graland Country Day School is a private school in Denver, Colorado, serving students in preschool, kindergarten, elementary, and middle school. Founded in Denver in 1924, Graland incorporates a rich, experiential learning approach in a traditional classroom setting, emphasizing the development of globally and socially conscious leaders who excel academically.