Kids find heroes close to home

Many of the pupils said their parents or their grandparents are their heroes.
AUSTINTOWN -- Debbie and Brittany Lowe have a relationship that other mothers and daughters might envy. Debbie considers her daughter to be her pride and joy, while Brittany, 9, views her mom as her hero.
"She helps me and she cares for me," said Brittany, a fourth-grader at Watson Elementary School.
Debbie was among those honored as heroes by Watson pupils Monday during two assemblies at the school. Gladys Barone, a special education teacher who helped organize the assemblies, said they had special significance in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks.
"[The assemblies] became an emotional endeavor to honor our local heroes, to reward them for being heroes," she said, adding that the assemblies also were held in honor of Veterans Day.
A morning assembly allowed first- and second-graders and pupils in the morning kindergarten classes to honor their heroes, and third- and fourth-graders and pupils in the afternoon kindergarten classes honored their heroes in the afternoon assembly.
Many of the parents, grandparents, siblings and friends identified as heroes attended the assemblies.
What makes a hero? Some pupils read statements they had written to describe their heroes. One girl said her grandfather was her hero because he helped retrieve a runaway guinea pig from under a chair. A boy said his grandfather was his hero because he pointed out which loose teeth should be pulled out.
Barone noted that most pupils chose their parents or grandparents as their heroes.
Fourth-grader Jessica Adams, 9, said her mother, Kimmi Adams, was her hero because, "she loves me and she always loves me." Adams said that although she didn't think she did anything out of the ordinary to deserve the honor, she appreciated being chosen a hero.
"It put me in tears, actually," she said.
Momir Dzikic, a former World War II prisoner of war, also was in tears after being called a hero. His granddaughter, fourth-grader Nicole Pavlichich, 9, said she respected her grandfather for his ability to overcome obstacles.
"He was really proud to be picked," said Desa Pavlichich, Dzikic's daughter and Nicole's mother.
Fourth-grader Stevie Marshall, 10, said his father, Steve Marshall, was his hero because he helped him with projects like the construction of a treehouse.
"I take it as quite an honor," Marshall said.
Role models: Barone said she thinks the number of parents chosen as heroes demonstrates the positive effect that parents can have on their children.
"It's a realization that we are true role models," she said. "What we say and do is important to them."
Watson Principal James Carchedi added, "You don't have to wear the uniform of a soldier, a policeman, a fireman to be considered a hero."

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