'They feel really good about honoring the veterans'

Zoe Greszler • Jun 5, 2019 at 12:00 PM

WILLARD — Willard High School is making a community-wide impact that spans several generations. Take a walk down Myrtle Avenue and passersby can see that impact in the form of honorary veteran banners. 

Family and friends can purchase a banner through the school featuring the veteran’s picture, name and branch of service, along with the words “Hometown Hero.”

No hero should be forgotten, English teacher and student council adviser Courtney Carnahan said. That’s something Willard City Schools has had as a main theme for the past two years, leading up to this latest veteran-honoring project. 

About 25 core members from from the high school’s VoAg, FFA, student council and student leadership groups came together to form the community honor committee. The students, along with Carnahan and other advisers started the project about a year ago.

The first of the banners was hung in time for Memorial Day.  There are now 62 banners hanging on the light posts lining Myrtle Avenue, with six more soon to go up. There’s still room for a few more, Carnahan said, and all will remain hanging through Veteran’s Day.

The school project was led by the students and advisors, but incorporated several area organizations, including the city and Huron County Veteran Services. Carnahan said they were all “very supportive from the get-go.” The Downtown Business Association provided a jump-start donation for the cost of the poles from which the banners hang. She added that the other expenses could be covered by the cost of the banners — which can be purchased to be hung proudly for one, two or three years. After that time, the family is given the banner to have as a keepsake. 

Any leftover funds from the project will be saved and put together for a potential future veterans memorial. 

Each of the students too were touched by the project in some way, Carnahan said.

“Afterward they were all saying, ‘Wow, this is so cool. I’m so glad that we do this,’” she said. “They feel really good about honoring the veterans.... It should have been happening all along and we just wanted to do a better job of it.”

Through the project, several students learned something new — that they had relatives who served the country.

“They didn’t know, some of them. They found out through this project,” Carnahan said. “It’s kind of become a family and school project. And it’s exciting because this community honor committee, we earned the purple star designation for the Ohio Department of Education for the veteran projects we’ve done. We’re really proud of that.”

Carnahan said Huron County has the highest population of veterans in the state, something that moved them to “forge a new relationship with the Huron County Veteran Services” to accomplish this and other projects.

This is far from the district’s first project recognizing the men and women who have served the country. The school puts on an annual 5K in honor of veterans and raises funds to support the Huron County Honor Flight trip. They sponsor three to five of the seats on that trip every year.

“We also have our big Veteran’s Day program each November that the kids are so proud to be a part of,” Carnahan said. “They absolutely love it and they do it all. They plan it, put together the student scripts, mail calls and (kindergarten) through 12th grade, they all write letters. 

“It’s nice to be able to to do something for them (the veterans),” she said.

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