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A nod of thanks and appreciation doled out to local veterans Thursday

By Joanne Beck

Several local veterans were honored Thursday morning during a Veterans Day ceremony at Batavia High School. Band Director Jane Haggett, whose father Robert was amongst the recipients, handed out tokens of appreciation for their service.

They were:

U.S. Army

  • Robert Haggett
  • William Hughes
  • Thomas Steffinella
  • Rich Favaloro

U.S. Air Force

  • Dennis Mahoney
  • Matt Lutey

U.S. Marines

  • Colin Dailey, husband of BHS social worker Lindsay
  • John Dwyer
  • Vincent Pontillo
  • John Gombos

U.S. Navy

  • Tom Cecere
  • Harold McJury
  • Rocco Pellegrino

The district also gave a proud shout-out to members of its own school community.

“The BHS community is very fortunate to have three veterans on staff. We thank them for their service to our country and for keeping everyone safe," BHS Principal Paul Kesler said. "We would like to call the three gentlemen up to the front of the auditorium to receive a small token of our appreciation."

  • Mr. Greg Ciszak, BHS School Counselor: served his country for 12 years in the 152nd Engineer Company as a Staff Sergeant in the Army National Guard. He was a horizontal construction engineer. His unit was activated for numerous state emergencies including snow storms, floods, and the September 11th World Trade Center disaster.
  • Christopher Gorton, a Special Education teacher: joined the Army in 1984 and was in active duty from 1984 to 1989. During a portion of his active duty, Mr. Gorton was stationed in Western Germany. He continued to be on inactive duty from 1989 to 1992. Mr. Gorton was twice awarded the Army Achievement Medal and earned a good conduct medal. His unit received its second presidential unit citation award while he was stationed in West Germany. To this day, Mr. Gorton still carries a Challenge coin from President Reagan, the Commander in Chief, that was given out to the unit.
  • BHS Earth Science teacher Christopher Weicher: served in the United States Marine Corps from 1987 to 1991. Mr. Weicher completed two combat deployments during Operation Just Cause in Panama and the Gulf War 1. While serving his country, he received two combat action ribbons, a Presidential Unit Citation, and a Meritorious Unit Citation while serving with the 6th Marine Regiment.

The event included readings from students about what Veterans Day means to them. Adrien Fytros said that veterans are often defined as those who have been in the workforce for an extensive period of time, and those who have served in the military. 

"Those that have served in any branch of the military are easily the least selfish people in our community and should be treated as such. They are those who would put themselves through intense, rough, and enduring training for years to ensure that we can carry on a worry-free life, explore our interests, and pursue our own careers and dreams we’ve sought out," he said. "Veterans Day as a whole is to honor and give a spotlight to these brave and compassionate people that allow us to do everything we’ve desired to do. 

"Veterans Day is a day to honor those who put their family, community, and most of all, their country and its residents before themselves."

Photo: BHS Band Director Jane Haggett hands out tokens of appreciation the district's thanks to veterans during a Veterans Day assembly Thursday at the State Street school in Batavia. Photos by Joanne Beck.

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