By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Veterans First Service Project Staged At Oakdale Academy
The elementary students at Oakdale Academy gathered together to draw pictures on cardboard that will be placed at the bottom of care packages for troops that are deployed. VIRGINIA STILL/THE LEADER

Oakdale Academy students showed their support for veterans and active service members by decorating care packages with their artwork, filling them with goodies, and sending them off overseas this past Friday. Kindergarten through third grade teacher Paula Roberts, in her first year at the Academy, has her students participate in a service project each trimester and the one they just completed was the veterans’ service project. They began this project in November for Veterans’ Day and continued it this month sending off packages.

Collaborating with Riverbank’s Veterans First organization and coordinator Duke Cooper, the students not only got a presentation regarding the American Flag and how to properly fold it and display it but also learned how to dispose of it properly, receiving a hands on experience by cutting the stars off the flags before they are burned. The students then put the individual stars in a one inch by one inch cellophane bag along with a message.

“I had been wanting to do something with the veterans,” stated Roberts. “I heard on the radio that they were working together with Veterans First and doing community things. That organization is great. I had to find a way to connect with them. They are wonderful in the community.”

Although Roberts does not have anyone in the service, supporting active military and veterans is “near and dear” to her heart. She does have a few students that have family members that are serving or have served.

“The kids are our future,” stated Cooper. “It is great to have them participate in these activities.”

Following the presentation by Cooper along with the assistance from a couple students on how to properly fold an American flag, he presented Roberts a flag that was flown in Afghanistan.

Students made comments that it was a good thing that they were sending care packages overseas for active military especially for those that had family members that served or that are serving.

The care packages were filled with all kinds of goodies like Pop Tarts, Rice Krispies treats, chips, granola bars, candy, hot chocolate and medical items.

Oakdale Academy is a Christian school that serves students from kindergarten through eighth grade that opened five years ago under the direction of owner and teacher Cy Cole.

“We specialize in not only being a Christian school but it is also really small intimate classrooms,” said Cole. “I wanted to challenge him (his son) academically and keep him creative and curious about learning. So I created the school based around that concept and it has been popular and we have had a lot of demands.”

Another service project that Roberts and her class participated in was the sponsoring a child with World Vision. Challenging her students to do extra chores over the Thanksgiving holiday to earn extra money to help purchase gifts for the child was a success. Matching the amount they brought in and a parent stepping up and matching her contribution allowed them to give the child over $400 worth of items like chickens and ducks, purchased through a special program.

“Being a Christian school we want to emphasize stewardship and giving and caring for other people,” added Roberts. “My personal philosophy is that I want the kids to be aware of the world and understand that they are lucky that they have a good life and that there are a lot people that are less fortunate and our obligation is to help those in need of help.”

Packaging and decorating 25 boxes with special designs and personal messages and previously cutting approximately 250 stars, the students and staff at Oakdale Academy are delighted to support the troops and veterans.

“It (artwork on the care package) is a personal touch and it is making someone else’s day brighter,” said Roberts. “A little effort on your part can change something for someone else. That is the big message.”

More information about Oakdale Academy’s is available on the website at or Facebook page at