SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

February 4, 2013

Peabody school's patriotism wins Defense Department plaque

PEABODY — Patriotism at the West Elementary School has been certified with a plaque from the Department of Defense in Washington. It’s a unique designation creating a lot of cheer for students and school employees.

The Seven Seals Award is generally bestowed on businesses in recognition of their willingness to ease the transition for employees who are called away to serve in the National Guard or Reserves. The award goes to the West School — in a ceremony set for Tuesday at 10 a.m. at the school — to mark efforts made to instill students with respect for the nation and the men and women who sacrifice themselves in its defense.

“The parents are really excited about it,” says principal Tom Cornacchio.

The school came to the attention of the Defense Department thanks to a letter written by National Guard Staff Sgt. Dave Nicholson. A Peabody resident and former West student, Nicholson, 52, sends two of his three kids to the school.

“We’ve all gone to the West School,” he says proudly.

He will join in Tuesday’s ceremony which is taking place shortly before he is to be deployed to Afghanistan for the better part of a year.

Nicholson’s letter, says Cornacchio, was based “just on what he observed here ... that it’s apparent we’re trying to teach the importance to kids of military service. ... You can’t have democracy without people who go out and fight for it.”

That’s a sentiment Cornacchio drew from the experience of his late father, Salem’s Joseph “Pep” Cornacchio, a veteran of World War II. The principal sees fostering patriotism as part of any school’s mission. At the West, students learn a little history and are informed about the military and that “these are the guys that have stood up and protected you.”

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