Pupils, Navy officer find it's a small world



The Navy reserve officer still has family in the local community.
By DENISE DICK
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
POLAND -- Writings of North Elementary School are reaching halfway across the globe.
Late last year, Michael Masucci, North principal, was approached by Mary Jan Perdulla of Pioneer Trails Tree Farm about sending pupil-made ornaments to decorate the trees her company was sending to military personnel stationed overseas.
Masucci agreed and first- through fourth-grade pupils created the holiday decorations.
Early this month, Masucci received an e-mail from Beverly Thomas, a Navy reserve officer stationed in Qatar in the Middle East where she works with legal matters.
Thomas is a 1979 graduate of Poland Seminary High School and saw the ornaments and a note written by the principal on one of the Christmas trees on her base.
"You cannot imagine how I felt when I found out that the decorations on our Christmas trees all over the base were made by my fellow hometown friends," wrote Thomas, who lives in Florida.
That initial note led to an e-mail correspondence between Thomas and North classes. She sent the school a poster photograph of her and fellow military personnel signed by each person.
Educational, too
Besides acquainting pupils with military life, the e-mails provide an educational tool as well.
"The classroom applications are just about across the board -- English, geography, technology," Masucci said.
Kindergartner Kyle Koziel, 5, and Harley Kish, 7, who's in second grade, haven't yet written to the school's Navy pen pal but indicate that they're looking forward to it.
The classroom of Nick Sabrin, 7, a first-grader, has exchanged a few e-mails with Thomas.
"We told her thank you for serving our country and for being in the Navy for us," Nick said.
Thomas also sent a short video message to the school and it's making the rounds of the classrooms.
"She told us to follow our dreams," said Justine Kramer, 9, who's in third grade.
The e-mails have been ongoing between Thomas and Dominic Petrony's fourth-grade class, too.
"We said we were very proud of her and told her to stay well and be safe," said Dominic, 9.
Thomas, who has family living in the village, told the pupils in her video message that she is living her dream by serving in the military.
"I believe in what I'm doing," said Thomas, who has been transferred to Afghanistan since her original e-mail.
Learning that pupils and teachers at an elementary school in her hometown took the time to make decorations to send to troops "put the exclamation point on my decision to volunteer to serve our great country," Thomas wrote in one e-mail.

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