The West Memorial School, in a unique honor, is being publicly recognized by the U.S. Department of Defense for the staff's "outstanding" efforts to instill patriotism and respect for those serving in the military with the students at the elementary school.
The award is called the Seven Seals Award, which is bestowed by the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) and was created to recognize American employers for their patriotic support and other means of support for soldiers serving in the National Guard and the Reserves or their families.
In Massachusetts, only 25 such awards are given out to employers.
In a notice to school administrators, West Vice-Principal Kathleen Covino says the award comes thanks to a nomination letter penned by parent David Nicholson.
In his letter, Nicholson praised Principal Tom Cornacchio "for his patriotic assemblies, for his attention to the condition of the flag outside of the school and for his daily recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance over the sound system," according to Covino.
That also included learning about the Gettysburg Address, school ceremonies for Patriots Day, Memorial Day and Veterans Day and sending care packages to U.S. soldiers overseas.
Nicholson tells the Salem News that two of his children are West School students and he spent his elementary school years there as well. A former member of the 18th Airborne in the Army, he is now a staff sergeant in the National Guard and will be deployed to Afghanistan soon for several months.
Nicholson told the Salem News it was apparent school staff were making an effort with students to instill the importance of soldiers' service to the country. Cornacchio said he drew from his own late father's experience as a World War II veteran.
A school assembly to accept the Seven Seals Award will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the West.