WYOMING — A tree planted on the property of Tenth Street Elementary School in 2014 finally received a proper dedication.
With the leg work of Wyoming Area School District representatives and the mayors of Wyoming and West Wyoming boroughs, the tree planted in front of the school has been officially dedicated to the men and women who protect and serve our country. A plaque honoring that fact was placed near the tree on the front lawn of the elementary school.
Attending the dedication were Tenth Street teacher Deborah Pryzbyla, Wyoming Area School Board member Gerald Stofko, Wyoming Area School District police officer Chris Alberigi and Tenth Street Elementary Principal Jon Pollard.
Pryzbyla, a teacher at the elementary school and a U.S. Air Force veteran, commissioned the tree from the West Wyoming Shade Tree Commission in 2014, when the council was giving away trees. She said she didn’t have room on her own lawn, so she decided to have it planted on school property. After she discussed the idea with board members and Superintendent Janet Serino, the tree was planted.
Pryzbyla had the plaque made in time for Memorial Day weekend.
“This is something small, but fitting,” she said. “I had such a wonderful experience in the military and this is a great way to recognize all of those who served.”
Pryzbala served six years in the Air Force as a personnel technician in California and Germany. Her father and brother were Marines, while with her aunt and uncle served in the Navy and Army, respectively. Her son has served tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. This dedication means much more than just a plaque, she said.
She said it was fitting to have it at the Tenth Street school because her father attended school there when the building was the Wyoming High School.
“I thought it would be nice to have veterans honored in the valley and this area, both Wyoming and West Wyoming, that are presently serving and have served,” she said. “This is perfect with Memorial Day coming up.”
Pryzbyla thanked those who made the dedication happen, including West Wyoming Borough Councilwoman Eileen Cipriani.
Pollard gave opening remarks, saying he is the son and grandson of veterans.
“I feel that it is important for us to continue to find ways to carve out small memorials for those who have served our country,” he said. “We should keep our veterans, and their families who have sacrificed their time and lives for our freedom and liberty, in hearts.”
Stofko, a veteran of the Vietnam War, was awarded three Purple Hearts and two Bronze Stars while serving. He said the tree signifies everything men and women in the military are fighting for. He appreciates the work Pryzbyla put in to making the dedication happen.
“I’m a proud Vietnam veteran,” he said. “(Pryzbyla), for her doing this is outstanding for all the veterans, not just for me.”
Alberigi echoed those words, and was proud to be a part of the dedication.
“This is very special,” he said. “It’s something nice they did for the veterans. All the service they have put in for this county — we’re honored to have something to remember them by.”
Reach Nick Wagner at 570-991-6406 or on Twitter @Dispatch_Nick