The Daily Courier
PRESCOTT - While veterans' sacrifices remain in the hearts and minds of patriotic Americans year-round, Prescott High School students created a special Veterans Day monument to that service.
Prescott High School's Aerospace Science and Leadership Academy and the school's student council joined forces to create their own memorial wall.
"This is the first year we've done this project," said Col. Danny Peeples, PHS science teacher and head of the ASLA program. "It's a wall honoring local veterans and their family members. Cadets in the ASLA program are guarding the wall, and the student council helped plan and construct it."
Peeples asked students and the public to submit names of members of the United States military, past and present, living or dead, for the students to inscribe on the wall. Holly Favour, the student body vice president, said the wall also has boxes where students and the public could write letters to those currently overseas.
Peeples said students submitted 300 veterans' names before building the wall, and that it was "growing every day" from there. The students began assembling the wall Thursday night, in the hallway beyond the school's main entrance. It will be on public display during normal school hours - 7 a.m. until 3 p.m. - through Wednesday.
"I think it's a good thing to have these two programs take the lead on this," said Jim Wells, PHS assistant vice principal. "That way, the students have the responsibility and the ownership of this, which is a great lesson. We didn't conduct a specific 'ceremony' for the wall, but it is there, right out in the open, as a constant patriotic reminder."
Peeples said one goal was showing students how many links the Prescott area has to veterans.
"I served in the military for 24 years, and it's important, especially now ... for young people to be aware of how many people close to their lives have personally been part of the struggle for freedom," said Peeples. "I'd heard about other schools conducting similar projects to this one, and I'm glad we're able to as well, because having a memorial like this right in school, that they built with their own hands, is a wonderful experience."
Peeples explained that ASLA is not "Junior ROTC" and has a different purpose. He said it encourages respect for the military and teaches many skills that might be useful in an Air Force career, but is not an officer-training program.
"I'm not planning on going into the military, but I'm enjoying ASLA, and I think it will help me with my college application," said cadet Melissa Gasho. "It's focused on leadership skills, and that's one thing a lot of colleges look for."
Peeples said that of the 22 cadets that graduated the previous year only three went into the military, but nearly all of the rest went on to a university.
"There's a lot of misunderstandings by people who think ASLA is just a high school level ROTC," said Peeples. "It's extremely technology oriented, which is a useful background for anyone to have, and we focus strongly on leadership skills, which help no matter what career you decide to go into. This memorial wall is a great example of students taking a leadership role, and accomplishing something great. Anyone walking down that hallway will be able to see the results of that."