‘Your service, your sacrifice and your selflessness’: Trumbull students honor veterans

Photo of Amanda Cuda

TRUMBULL — Olya Fryz finally got to honor her father, a Korean War veteran, by wearing his Army jacket on Veterans Day.

Fryz, a music teacher at Jane Ryan School, had always wanted to wear it while hosting the school’s annual Veterans Day concerts. But there was a problem — the concerts were always inside the school’s auditorium.

“It was so, so warm in there,” she said.

But this year, due to COVID-19 precautions, the concert took place outside and the school’s 445 students performed “God Bless America” and a host of other themed songs in the brisk fall weather that was perfect for wearing a Korean War coat.

After the introductions, students sang “This Land is Your Land,” “God Bless the U.S.A.,” a medley of songs about the armed forces, and other tunes. A few of the veteran in attendance were asked to stand up and speak, including U.S. Air Force veteran Harrison Barrett, Jr., grandfather to fifth grader Ruby Solano.

The concert included about 85 guests, about half of whom were veterans of the armed services.

“We are so honored that you are here,” Fryz said.

Jane Ryan principal Pat Horan also recognized all the veterans in attendance.

“We thank you for your service, your sacrifice and your selflessness,” Horan said.

The concert was canceled last year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Thursday’s event represent not just a return for the veterans concert, but the first school musical assembly since COVID led the schools to shut down in March 2020.

Initially, Fryz said, she didn’t think she would be able to do the concert, but then she got the idea of having the children perform outside, in back of the school. The Veterans Day concert has become a staple of the school.

“The veterans love it,” she said.

Many of the veterans who attended the event were friends and family members of Jane Ryan students and staff.

Wayne Thompson, 74, of Shelton, is an Army veteran who served in Vietnam and the uncle of first grade teacher Jennifer Clark. He said he has been coming to the event for years, and thinks it’s a good way to teach children about those who have served their country.

“Veterans Day is an extremely important day,” he said. “It’s a tradition, and it’s very important that kids know about it.”