There’s a special wall in Butler Middle School that holds a place in the hearts of many of its students and their families.
The school’s Wall of Honor is made of bricks of paper, each one detailing the sacrifice made by a loved one in the U.S. Armed Forces. The decade-long tradition is a way for each student to pay homage to the heroes in their lives, and show their appreciation in a display the whole school can see. The wall is part of a celebration that culminates in a Veterans Day assembly presented by the school band, orchestra and choir. The assembly is one of the students’ favorite meetings of the year.
“You think kids don’t care, but it has been really cool to see how they have responded,” said Butler Middle teacher Jennifer Van Haaften, who has coordinated the project since its inception. “It has been such a great experience.”
During the assembly, the school presents a slide show of each of the veterans being honored, and without fail, every year, every name is met with great applause, Van Haaften says.
The tradition began after Butler Middle School became a "First Amendment School" in 2001. The First Amendment Schools project is designed to “transform how schools teach the rights and responsibilities of citizenship,” according to the project’s web site. Though the Veterans' Wall is one of Van Haaften’s favorite projects of the year to participate in, the idea was initially sparked by the students of Butler Middle 10 years ago.
“They wanted to do something to honor veterans,” Van Haaften said. “The students said, ‘We want to do something, how can we get the community involved?’ ”
Students and members of the community can submit information about a veterans service to be included on the school’s wall, which is on display in the common area near the cafeteria.
This year’s wall represents more than 50 Veterans from all branches of the military — including the Coast Guard — who served in Desert Storm, the Korean War, World War II and Afghanistan.