After their class read the book Johnny Tremain by Ester Forbes and conducted a series of interviews with World War II veterans at the Cole Land Transportation Museum, five students formed a group called the Kids of Liberty. After writing essays, documenting what they had learned in the interviews, the Kids of Liberty and their teacher, met to brainstorm their observations and many noted that their community didn’t have a memorial recognizing local veterans.
The students began contacting local town offices to get a list of men and women who had served. They discovered that no complete list existed, and worked with community members to document the names of Holden area veterans. They also introduced their idea to the rest of their 8th grade classmates.
Lead by the Kids of Liberty, the students then prepared and hosted a presentation (including PowerPoint) for their principal and school board requesting permission to erect the memorial on their school’s property. After the school board granted them permission, the students began raising money for their project by writing letters to taxpayers in their community and by holding a spaghetti dinner and silent auction. They got many of the building supplies and labor donated by local businesses. The students reflected on each of these steps by journaling and through podcasts. They researched the design of a memorial online, and drew blueprints of the structure. The students wrote press releases about their progress and making presentations to local civic and government groups including the Historical Society and Town Council.
Once they gathered enough support, donations and money, the students and their partners broke ground on the memorial. The memorial included 60 paving stones at the time, and the students set aside funding and space for opportunity to expand. Each stone is dedicated to a local veteran, and the monument was unveiled at a community ribbon-cutting ceremony on Memorial Day. Students from other schools in the area were invited to perform at the event. Many community partners and members of the press were on hand. The Holden 8th graders filmed and photographed the ceremony. The community was very appreciative of the students’ hard work, especially veterans and their families.