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New tradition honors military heroes at North

November 10, 2011
By J.T. Whitehouse
A new tradition at Poland North Elementary began just prior to Halloween when the students were asked to bring in photos of family members who have served or are serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. In a short time, the wall across from the center courtyard was filled with faces.

“This was a nice way for North to honor the military for Veterans Day,” said Principal Tracy Kaschak.

She said it came from an idea she had about honoring her own family members who have served and are serving. She thought the students would also have family members to honor and the idea came up to make a Hero Wall. The ideal spot was across from the center courtyard where the sunlight would keep it well lit.

Two weeks ago the photos started coming in. The students got stars that they entered their hero’s name on, followed by the words “Hero of” then their own name. The stars were then attached to the photos.

The wall was completed in time for the annual Halloween parade at the school, after which parents were given the opportunity to check out the display.

One hero that the entire school adopted as their own was Tom Sofranec, who served in the armed forces and is now the school’s janitor.

Kaschak said the Hero Wall, along with some classroom discussion, also helps students better understand the meaning behind creating the Hero Wall. Third-grader Kimberly Gulling knew that meaning when she placed three photos on the board that included her uncle Thomas Gulling and her cousins John Hoza and Stephen Hoza. All three are Army and John is still on active duty.

“They are helping keep people safe,” young Kimberly said.

The photos and Hero Wall will remain on display until after Veterans Day. The students and what they have learned will stay with them and the whole project will more than likely become an annual one at Poland North.

“If we didn’t have something like this, then down the road we wouldn’t realize just what are servicemen and women have done for us,” Kaschak said.

Article Photos

Photo by J.T. Whitehouse, Town Crier
Poland North Elementary student Shane Hockensmith proudly points to his hero, his uncle Philip Hockensmith, who served in the Navy about 10 years ago and presently lives in South Carolina. The photo was Shane’s contribution to the Hero Wall that went up last week at the school and will remain until after Veterans Day.



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