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Tyee Park Elementary School celebrates Pearl Harbor survivor's 90th birthday at spring concert

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LAKEWOOD, Wash. - Students gathered to perform a musical, sing jazz and wish a happy birthday to a very special veteran. These students are no strangers to recognizing soldiers. They know the history behind each note they sing.

More than 100 veterans, parents and faculty members gathered at Tyee Park Elementary School, Lakewood, Wash., May 30, at the annual spring concert where fourth- and fifth-grade students performed the musical adaption of the Charles Dickens classic, "Oliver Twist." Following the musical, students in first, second and third grades performed an upbeat jazz concert involving scat, improvisation, and 5-year-old "guest conductor" Yuri Castillo directing the final swing tune of the day, "Start your day with a song!"

Retired Chief Petty Officer, Donald R. Green, who served on the USS Pyro during the attacks on Pearl Harbor, was invited to attend the concert on this special day.

At the beginning of the concert, students at Tyee Park took a moment to recognize Green and sing, "Happy Birthday." They presented him with a bright orange banner that said "Remember Pearl Harbor" which had more than 400 signatures wishing him a Happy 90th Birthday.

Tracey Lundquist, Tyee Park's music and literature teacher, has afforded her students many opportunities to visit service members and to witness firsthand what it means to serve.

Lundquist's enthusiasm for music and literature is why this fine arts teacher provides an exceptional learning experience for her students.

While reading with her kids about World War ll, for example, she invited Pearl Harbor survivors and Tuskegee airmen to talk to her students and brought history to life.

"It is like we have torn out the pages of history and wrapped them around the kids," Lundquist said. "Sometime youth gets in the way and these kids just don't realize how fortunate they are to have the veterans walk among us and share their stories.

"At 90, Don is still full of zip and energy, added Lundquist. "I can always count on him to share his history with my students and come support our programs."

Green says that it is very important for student to be introduced to opportunities within the military.

"I've been coming here for 12 years, said Green. "I have a story to tell."

Adrianna H. Brown, a fifth grader who performed during Oliver Twist, has great respect for Green and was happy to see him attend the spring concert.

"He is a veteran and risked his life to protect our freedom," said Brown. " He likes to see us perform and he shows us that we shouldn't take our freedom for granted."

Photo: Staff Sgt. Teresa Adams

Students at Tyee Park Elementary School, Lakewood, Wash., sing "Happy Birthday" to retired Chief Petty Officer and Pearl Harbor survivor, Donald R. Green, May 30, prior to the school's spring concert. It was Green's 90th birthday and he was presented an orange banner that displayed "Let's remember Pearl Harbor" which had over 400 signatures from students and faculty members. Fourth- and fifth-grade students performed a musical adaption of the Charles Dicken's classic, "Oliver Twist." First-, second- and third-graders performed in an upbeat jazz concert.

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