Young Veterans Society Breakfast
On May 10, the Riverside High School Young Veterans Society hosted an appreciation breakfast for local veterans. The club of 20 juniors was formed last year by students in Nicolle Botman’s English class. Botman, a teacher for 16 years, said “We had an instant connection in this English class, there was a real family dynamic in the room and they wanted to keep it going and we want to share that with the community and the veterans.” So the club was formed and open to new members.
Each holiday, the students write letters to troops overseas but they decided they wanted to do more. Many of the students are inspired to do more for veterans because they have relatives who have served or are currently serving in the armed services. The students and Ms. Botman formed an afterschool club along with computer science teacher Danny Fanek, who serves as the co-advisor of the club. Amina Poota, a junior, spearheaded the club initiative and was inspired to keep her classmates together and to continue fund-raising for veteran’s causes. She serves as the club’s treasurer.
In addition to writing holiday cards for troops, the club members have held fundraisers throughout the past two years to purchase wreaths for Arlington National Cemetery, to provide toiletry and food for homeless veterans, and having veterans from Yonkers speak at the school to students.
During the ceremony, each student spoke to the table of veterans and the audience of students, teachers and faculty members. All thanked the members for their service, several were Yonkers Public Schools graduates including former Marine Paul Lopez, who graduated in 1999 from Gorton High School. Lopez had taught several of the students when they were in his middle school social studies class. “I want to give you a big thank you for what you have done,” said Vanessa Diaz, a student in the club.
Sam Riti, an Army veteran from the Vietnam era, is a graduate of the Class of 1965 from Yonkers High School and his grandchildren attend the YPS schools. Joe Blanck, a member of the 101st and a retired NYPD Lieutenant graduated from Lincoln High School, as did two of his children. Harold Dworetzky, a veteran of the Korean War is Chairman of the Yonkers Central Committee of Veterans Organizations, Yonkers Police Sgt. Drummond, served in Afghanistan, Egidio Conciatori served in the Army. Louis Navarro, the head of the Yonkers Veterans Affairs Organization, served for 32 years and fought in Vietnam and Desert Storm.
The students hope to form an even stronger partnership with the Yonkers veterans as they prepare for their senior year.