Students at Washington Avenue Elementary School check out patriotic artwork created by fourth-graders to commemorate Veterans Day, Friday morning. Mark Wilson Photo
The fourth-grade hallway at Washington Avenue Elementary School looked more like a museum than a school Friday.
Both sides of “The Fourth Grade Hall of Honor” were covered in pictures of soldiers spanning decades in American history. From black-and-white pictures of World War II soldiers, to full-color photos of those in Iraq today, various branches and eras were represented.
Penny Rodriquez, a fourth-grade teacher at the school, said the assignment given to the entire grade was to pick their favorite veteran and create a visual display telling more about them. Many of the students have family members who are veterans, but in the event one did not, they were to research a veteran and report on that person. Students were then encouraged to invite any veteran they knew to visit the school and view the display. One of those who came was Jerry Ringheimer. He served four years in the Air Force and said seeing the display caused him to reflect on just how fortunate he is to be here today.
“It’s heartwarming to see how many young men served in the military … and I’m sure some of them gave their lives up,” he said. “I was one of the fortunate ones. Vietnam was just starting when my tour of duty was up, so I didn’t have to serve on the front lines. I’m grateful kids like this put on a Veterans Day ordeal for us vets.”
Rodriquez said by completing the project, students got a better understanding of how the military affects them all.
Don Jones, also in the U.S. Air Force, was in attendance and brought with him a few ribbons and medals earned during his three years of service. For him, he said, it’s not so much about getting kids to understand specific mo-ments in history as it is the role of the military throughout the nation’s history.
“I think it’s more important they understand that we were willing to serve our country, and do whatever we need to do to protect our freedom,” he said.
He described the Hall of Honor as “pretty awesome,” noting the effort put into all the posters displaying family members was quite evident.
Over the course of the week, Rodriquez said she’s seen her students gain an appreciation for the servicemen and women and feels the military is not something they’ll ever take for granted. She said they’ve also gained a bit of empathy for children overseas where the wars are actually taking place.