‘Respectfully Remembering’ honors those in armed forces

WBHS students building memorial crosses
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Leader Photo by Miriam Nelson Wittenberg-Birnamwood High School freshman Reed Quade displays a cross that will be used to honor deceased members of the military. Names and branches of service will be painted on the crosses, which will be displayed at cemeteries during Memorial Day weekend.

Editor’s Note: NEW Media recently chatted with Wittenberg-Birnamwood High School Principal Jill Sharp about a new community service project called R2 — Respectfully Remembering.

Q: How did the project come about and how did it get named?

A: It was part of a brainstorming session with several teachers when we were looking for community service projects for our students that are meaningful and connected to our community.

Q: What kind of project is it and who manages it?

A: The students are building memorial crosses for people in our community that have served or are serving in the armed forces. The project is for the community in collaboration with our local Legions and VFW. It’s a project that can involve all the high school students. The National Honor Society is responsible for the overseeing of the project as a leadership group.

Q: How does the National Honor Society work?

A: It’s open to junior and senior students who maintain a 3.5 cumulative GPA and adhere to the bylaws set forth by the local and national NHS. Students must complete an individual service project and be part of the group project as well. This year, the NHS consider it an honor to be part of the R2 project.

Q: How long will the R2 project take to complete, and how many will work on it?

A: This project will be something we do each year as we add to the list. We are asking all students to participate; those who choose to help are welcome from both school and community.

Q: Who delivers and distributes the crosses?

A: The NHS and our local Legions and VFW will deliver and distribute based on their individual plans or celebrations throughout the year, particularly on Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

Q: How does someone apply for R2?

A: R2 information was distributed in newsletters, is on Facebook and forms can also be picked up in the high school office. Community members interested in painting their own memorial cross for family members are invited to come to the WBHS commons area from 6-7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Q: Who covers the cost?

A: Donations from the Legions and VFW are currently covering the cost. We are asking for folks who would like to donate to do so through their local Legion or VFW.

Q: Where are you getting the names and information for the crosses?

A: The list of veterans we currently are working off of has come from community members and the Schmidt & Schulta honor list, as well as The Shawano Leader list being sent to us upon completion.

Q: What kind of response have you had so far?

A: Many people are excited about this project and are looking forward to continuing it each year. Veteran Kerry Staehler from American Legion Post 502 mentioned that it’s great to see kids involved in these kinds of projects. He is a retired teacher from WBSD and also noted that there has been a trend of showing more respect and patriotism from the students when they’re attending the Memorial Day services held at the middle schools and at the high school.