A new holiday tradition emerges at Glen Rock


Photo Credit: Justin DeStaso

Jack Strawhorn lays a wreath.

by Justin DeStaso and Jack Strawhorn

When Dr. Michael Parent became the 6-12 principal at Glen Rock at the beginning of this school year, he wanted to do something to unite the high school with the rest of the town. With the holidays being a very special time for people all across the country, he figured Wreaths Across America would give him the perfect opportunity to fulfill his goal. 

“Because COVID is so bad, there’s very little to be joyful about right now, so I thought this would be something nice to do together for the holidays. Something where everyone could get out of the house and be with each other,” Parent said.

Wreaths Across America was founded by Morrill Worcester at his tree farm in Maine, where he made homemade wreaths which he would deliver to veteran’s graves in December. Founded in 1992, it exploded over the years into a nationwide event that is partaken in at more than 2,000 locations in the US. 

Partnering with the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Parent was able to get in contact with Fair Lawn Memorial Cemetery who was more than willing to let us come on the property to lay wreaths. After this, Parent called Wreaths Across America again not only to buy wreaths, but to also become a host site. After it was a big hit with the faculty, Parent sent emails out to families around Glen Rock to sign up. It was just as big of a hit in the community, and allowed for people to come together during the holidays.

“Everybody does toy drives, everybody does food drives, but this was something where everyone could get out of the house during the holiday season, and I was pleasantly surprised at how many people from the community wanted to come out and do this,” Parent said. 

As soon as we found out about this event we knew we had to participate. Knowing so many veterans from our friends and families who sacrificed their lives to protect our country, we knew we had to give back to them. 

The process was very fun and we had a blast doing it. While we were partaking in the event we saw several friends and family from our community. One in particular was senior Ryan LeBlanc.  

“It was an experience I will never forget,” LeBlanc said. “Looking at each individual’s name who served our country was very special to me and made me appreciate how much our veterans really did for us.” 

We highly recommend this experience to all of the members of the community of any age. 

 When Governor Murphy changed the rule for outdoor gatherings to 25 people, Parent had to make changes. He ended up bringing in two different groups of people at 11 a.m. and 12 p.m., and split people up when they were there to make sure requirements were met. Even with these restrictions, the day was a huge success. There were over 100 people who were able to lay wreaths on Saturday. For Wreaths Across America in Glen Rock, the future is bright.

“I want this to be something that we do for the holidays together as a school community where everyone can take part of it, so I plan on this becoming ingrained as something we do for the holidays,” Parent said.