Western Wayne Celebrates Veterans Day 

As a tradition for many years, Western Wayne administration, faculty, staff, and students joined together on Thursday, Nov. 9, to celebrate veterans in the community with a special in-school event that featured music from the high school band and chorus, a video presentation about Veterans Day, and a question and answer session with the veterans.
Many local veterans attended the presentation at Western Wayne, some of which had special connections to district faculty and students.
One such veteran at the assembly who has a connection was James English who served in the Marine Corps. English served with Major, USMA retired, Shane Grodack’s father, Sergeant Chester J. Grodack, USMC United States Marine Corp.
Major Grodack, a Western Wayne Middle School history teacher, organizes the Veterans Day assembly each year and was glad that an old friend of his father’s could participate.
English recalled that his best duty in the service was flying helicopters for the White House under presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy.
He fondly remembers traveling for this assignment to places like South America, Camp David, and Venezuela.
“At times we would go by sea and take the planes on ships,” he recalled. “It was amazing to get to see the world.”
English is now the Deputy Commander of the American Legion 15th District.
“I hope that the veterans presence at today’s assembly inspires others to go in the service and do good for others,” he said.
Fellow veteran Frank DiRosa had ties to two special students at the assembly. He had the pleasure of having his granddaughter sophomore Sydney Sosa help escort him. Sydney is a member of the Western Wayne Student Ambassador Program that helps to facilitate events of this nature at the school. His granddaughter Sophie Burian, 8th grade, was also at the assembly.
DiRosa left his senior year of high school early to become a Marine. He earned his GED while in the service which he spent six years in.
DiRosa hopes the middle and high school students who attended the event learned something from seeing the veterans there.
“Commitment is something that I think young people can learn from veterans,” he explained. “Too many times nowadays people start something and give up.”
Sydney is proud of her grandfather’s commitment to the service.
“I want him to be appreciated,” she explained. “I am glad that his friends who are veterans are here this morning, and I hope they all feel some joy.”
Sydney really enjoys spending time with her grandfather and learning from him.
“We play chess and golf together,” she said. “He loves history, and, sometimes, we just sit and talk about it.”
Fellow veteran and friend of DiRosa, Bryan Strubel also wished for the students at the assembly to feel inspired by the program.
“Patriotism is what I think they should gain from today,” he explained.
Strubel spent six years total in the Navy; four years active and two years reserve. He worked in a training squadron with trainer pilots. He also worked with F9s and FA4s. His job was being a jet mechanic working with A frames and quality control, among many other things.
He is originally from New York and later moved to Waymart. Currently he is a member of the American Legion 889 in Waymart.
His friend George Schaffer, an Air Force member, was also in attendance. Schaffer spent four years in the Air Force. He was also a part of the National Guard. In the service, his duty was a cook. Later he worked for 35 years as a Tobyhanna Army civilian doing electrical/ mechanical work. He is also a member of the 899 Legion in Waymart.
“I hope that students gain a respect for service people from the presentation,” he explained. “Maybe some will go into the Marines or the guard.”
DiRosa, Strubel, and Schaffer are grateful to still be friends and active in their American Legion years after their time in active service.
In comparison, Western Wayne Alumni from the class of 2023 Nathaniel Swingle and Luke Janiszewski are equally grateful for their friendship that blossomed at Western Wayne and led them to joining the service as a part of the buddy system. The two recent Marine Corps enlistees completed their first round of basic training together and will go on to join a fleet at an undisclosed location some time in the near future after additional training. The two served as squad leaders at their boot camp on Parris Island, South Carolina.
Swingle and Janiszewski became friends with North Pocono graduate Kariem Withers after bootcamp. The three servicemen currently are working for the Scranton Recruiting Office. They go to local high schools and interact with students to inspire them to sign-up for military service.
“I joined the military to improve myself,” Withers explained. “I feel a lot more disciplined now even just having a short time in so far.”
Withers explained that he really enjoyed working with Swingle and Janiszewski. “They are motivators,” he said.
Janiszewski aspires to attend college after his time in the service and become a secondary social studies teacher. Swingle can see himself studying business in college and aspires to open a sporting goods store one day.
A veteran at the event whose service is inspiring to all there was Elwood Merring. Merring earned the Silver Star Medal, Bronze Star Medal, and three Purple Hearts for what he did in combat in his service to the Army in Vietnam.
Merring is a member of the American Legion 807 in Hamlin. He is an extremely humble, decorated serviceman.
“I hope the students learn about the history of what veterans went through,” he explained.
The Western Wayne School District is proud to host veterans on their campus in remembrance of Veterans Day as a yearly tradition since 1982. The entire District thanks all of the veterans who took the time to attend the assembly and especially sends well wishes to all Western Wayne alumni who have served or are currently serving.

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