ROCKLAND — Superintendent Alan Cron, along with principals Jan Sheehan, Marilyn Smith and Michelle Scheufele, are pleased to announce that students from Rockland’s elementary schools gathered at the town’s Veterans Memorial Stadium this week for an annual ceremony honoring veterans.
The 2022 Memorial Day event was held Wednesday, June 1. Traditionally held for students at the Esten Elementary School, the district decided this year to open the event up to all three of the town’s elementary schools, including the Jefferson School and Memorial Park School.
As part of the event, Sgt. Daniel Clark, also known as Trooper Dan or the Singing Trooper, led students in the singing of patriotic songs and presented facts about the armed services, American history and more.
“It is fitting to be holding this ceremony in Veterans Memorial Stadium, which was a gift from the veterans of the Town of Rockland,” Superintendent Cron said during his opening remarks. “Being able to bring all three schools together in one place is very exciting.”
The Rockland Fire Department Honor Guard presented the United States and POW flags before Sgt. Clark began the ceremony by performing the Star-Spangled Banner and leading the Pledge of Allegiance.
Students from each grade level then performed a selection of songs and poems, with the assistance of district elementary music teachers Jeff Popadic and Michelle Booth.
- Kindergarten students sang “You’re a Grand Old Flag.”
- First graders recited the poem “For Memorial Day,” and sang “America, My Country ‘Tis of Thee.”
- Second graders recited the poem “The Little Flags,” and sang “America, My Home.”
- Third graders recited the poem “Whenever I Say America,” and sang “This is Your Land.”
- Groups of fourth grade students took turns reciting portions of the Gettysburg Address, as Sgt. Clark gave the history behind the speech and its significance. Fourth graders then sang “The Stars and Stripes Forever.”
Sgt. Clark then led a special presentation in which one student was taken from the crowd to represent each of the seven branches of the armed services. As each student took their place on a special banner marked with sections for each branch, Sgt. Clark explained specifics about each branch and their role in U.S. history. Students selected represented the Navy, Army, Marine Corps, Air Force, Merchant Marines, Coast Guard and Space Force.
After each student took their place on the banner, Sgt. Clark sang the official song of each branch and recognized those in the audience who had served in each.
As the event was held in conjunction with Memorial Day, Sgt. Clark then read the names of those from Rockland who died while serving in their country. This included Brett Carnathan, U.S. Air Force; Matthew Pollini, U.S. Army; Sean O’Connell, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; and Walter O’Haire, U.S. Marine Corps.
Popadic also performed “Taps” following a presentation on the history and meaning of the song.
The Rockland Police Department Honor Guard then demonstrated a traditional flag folding ceremony, while Sgt. Clark explained the significance of the proper way to fold an American flag. Students answered questions from their seats during the presentation.
The event concluded with all students and family in attendance singing the songs “God Bless America” and “Proud to be an American.” Sgt. Clark also recognized those who made the event possible, including members of the Rockland Public Schools administration and each building principal, teachers from each of the three schools, the Rockland Police and Fire Departments, music teachers Popadic and Booth, art teachers Samantha Cushman and Michael Guyette (who helped students make the signs they held during the event), and family members and all veterans and Gold Star family members in attendance.
The Rockland Public Schools would like to acknowledge Carol and Jack McGrath, whose donation makes the annual Memorial Day ceremony possible.
About Sgt. Clark
Sgt. Clark performed at more than 2,500 events for federal, state, local and military functions while a member of the Massachusetts State Police. He also performed 25 foreign National Anthems, in native dialect, for visiting dignitaries and sporting events.
In 2005 he retired from the Massachusetts State Police to pursue a professional singing career, and since then has performed at military functions, sporting events, summer concerts and more throughout New England and the country.
For more information, visit thesingingtrooper.com.