COLORADO SPRINGS — "I still felt like it needed to happen." Rozie Sanford who just finished her 8th grade year at North Middle School in Colorado Springs is talking about a project to place flags at veteran’s graves-- sidelined by COVID-19.
A select group of students made multiple trips to Fairview Cemetery for a learning/service project during the school year. They would find and identify headstones of veterans. “There was one that was like from the Civil War, which I thought was really cool,” said Sanford.
It is a project lead by teacher Esther Smith, who is also a military veteran. "They learn empathy and they begin to feel the losses that these families have felt, and they begin to have a better understanding of what sacrifices veterans made for them."
Sanford has people close to her who have served in the military. The experience serving at the cemetery enriched her appreciation for veterans. "I know if it wasn't for the people who have given their lives or served in the military, we wouldn't be where we are today as a country."
The culmination of the extra-curricular service was supposed to happen with an end of the school year service project for Memorial Day. Students would make a final field trip to the cemetery and place flags at hundreds of veteran graves. Like all other school activities, the project could not move forward as planned because of COVID-19 safety precautions.
There are flags, however, at the hundreds of veteran headstones for Memorial Day. A few teachers from the school gave the students another lesson on finding alternative ways to finish what is started. "We're still doing it for them because it’s their project," said Smith. She was joined at Fairview Cemetery by fellow teacher and veteran Andrew Stutts. He saw these students doing a good thing. “See them give back and give service to their community.” Teacher do not make a habit of finishing projects for students, but in this case it was the right thing to do.