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Students make Veterans Day a family affair

November 10, 2009|By JANET HEIM

HAGERSTOWN -- Students at Emma K. Doub School for Integrated Arts and Technology have a little more to think about this Veterans Day. In preparation for the observance, students were asked to involve their families in a schoolwide project.

Each student received a red, white and blue flag template to fill out for each veteran or active-duty military person in their family. The flags included the student's name, name of their family member, years they served in the military and where they served.

Principal Elizabeth Donohoe said the idea for the project developed while she and her staff were discussing how to commemorate Veterans Day.

"It was to make our students more aware of the celebration of Veterans Day and how their family and friends have served their country," Donohoe said.

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The 270 students and 30 staff members returned about 300 flags, "an overwhelming response," Donohoe said. The school hallways and bulletin boards are lined with the colorful flags.

Donohoe said students pause to read the flags as they enter and leave the building, especially while students wait for buses to arrive at the end of the day. She said they would keep the flags up for a week or two.

While they are not aware of any students who currently have parents in the military, Donohoe said the flags cover every major war, from Donohoe's great-great-grandfather who served in the Civil War to the present. One student recognized a family member who was at Pearl Harbor.

Fourth-grader Sophie Sargent, 9, of Hagerstown, said she had never met her great-uncle, her mother's uncle, who served in Korea. Thanks to this project, though, she's learned of a family connection to Veterans Day.

"It means we're honoring people who served in wars. A lot of people have veterans in their family," said Sophie, who said she was surprised at the number of flags.

Donohoe said the project has led to impromptu social studies lessons, as teachers talk about the various wars and where they took place. Sophie said since learning of her great-uncle's service in the Korean War, she now knows where North Korea and South Korea are on the world map, thanks to television news.

Evan Norton, 6, of Funkstown, said his grandfather was in Vietnam and he has an uncle who is serving in the Navy and travels all over the world. The first-grader said he liked being able to write about his family for the project.

For fourth-grader Alanna Anderson, it was special to learn that her uncle was in Vietnam and her great-grandfather was in World War II.

"I actually learned what wars they were in. I was glad to be able to fill out two flags," said Alanna, 9, of Hagerstown.

First-grader Katrina Archer's grandfather -- Poobah, as she sometimes calls him -- was in the Army and served in Germany, while her father was in the Army in Desert Shield.

Today, the staff will acknowledge Veterans Day with the students and will select some of the flags to read.

"By taking the flag home and talking to parents, they get to know more about the veterans in their own families," Donohoe said.

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