The entire Ames Elementary School in Searsmont turned out to commemorate fallen servicemen and women today by placing American Flags on graves sites at Grove Cemetery.

The event was sponsored by the Randall Collins Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3108, in preparation for the formal flag placement ceremony tomorrow.

Jim Roberts, VFW operations manager, said in a press release, "Every year the Belfast VFW places the American flags on grave sites on the Saturday before Memorial Day, but this year we are showing students, continuing our mission of 'Veterans in the classroom,' and having students witness, then practice, placing flags."

Post Commander Anthony Kimble encouraged students to say the veteran's name out loud, thank them for their service, notice their age and reflect on their dedication.

"Do this with respect and gratitude," he said.

Before placing flags, Ames fifth-graders sang "God Bless America," followed by Roberts playing "Taps."

"It is important," Kimble said, "not to take for granted the freedoms we have, which were paid for by the servicemen and women and their ultimate sacrifices.

"We will not forget," he said.

Principal Lori Smails said, "It was very meaningful for both students and staff to participate. Again, it really connects what we are teaching in the classroom to real-life events.

"Today's event was truly authentic learning. Students see the flags in our community or watch a ceremony on television, but participating in such an event brings learning to life, and also creates the sense of community we want to instill in our students."

Second grade teacher Sarah Nelson said she was thankful to Randall Collins VFW Post 3108 for reaching out to the Ames School for this educational opportunity.

"We have been most fortunate to partner with members of the VFW to foster patriotism and community volunteerism," she said.

"An event where each student places a flag on the final resting site of a service member shows our students the true meaning of Memorial Day, teaches flag etiquette and builds respect for those who have served."