Mattituck High School graduates who have since served as active members of the armed forces will be honored for their service this week in a ceremony at the school.
Coordinated by Barbara Sheryll, graduates from any year will be recognized with plaques bearing their name, picture, year of graduation and military branch. The plaques will be displayed on a Hallway of Honor at the school.
“This way, it’s an ongoing thing,” Ms. Sheryll said. “There’s no ranks, no dates served. It’s just the year they graduated and the branch they’ve served in. It’s a living, breathing project, so the dedication is not a culmination of the project. It’s the beginning of what will be a lifelong acknowledgment.”
Ms. Sheryll said she got the idea during a conversation with her 19-year-old son, Greg, now a sophomore at Rochester Institute of Technology.
She said Greg was telling her how grateful he was for all he learned as a Mattituck-Cutchogue student, and credited a lot of his work ethic to his participation in the Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps.
After speaking last December with Maj. William Grigonis, senior instructor of the NJROTC program, and high school principal Shawn Petretti, Ms. Sheryll began putting out calls to the community for the names of past or present military servicemen and -women.
As a result, there will be over 40 plaques, representing alumni veterans from as early as 1937 to the present.
“This is really a labor of love for our school and our military,” Ms. Sheryll said. “This is a collaborative effort among community organizations and ourselves to honor the people who were educated in our community and have chosen to serve us and protect the values we are able to live by.”
She said the wall was originally supposed to be dedicated in May, but she and Mr. Petretti decided it would be better to hold the dedication in November around Veterans Day. She added that she will put out a request to the community every few years for more veterans’ names to add to the wall.
Those recognized must have served actively in a military branch at some point in their lives. People serving in college ROTC programs don’t qualify for the plaque until they begin active duty, Ms. Sheryll explained.
She added that the plaques are free to the veterans recognized. They were paid for through donations from the Mattituck Lions Club, Kait’s Angels and the Southold Town Police Benevolent Association, she said, acknowledging the specific contributions of Jim Hinsch, Darla Doorhy and Ned Grathwohl from those organizations, respectively.
“There’s this sense of being able to do something good for the community and to honor those that have chosen to serve and protect us,” Ms. Sheryll said.
The Wall of Honor, located in the corridor between the old and new buildings near the guidance office, will be dedicated at 8:15 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 9.
Those interested in being added to the Wall of Honor can contact Ms. Sheryll at [email protected].
CORRECTION: Some of the donations were paid by the Southold Town Police Benevolent Association, not the Suffolk County PBA.