ADA TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — It is a lesson about service and, in some cases, about sacrifice.
Forest Hills Central High School history teachers Steve Labenz and Brad Anderson created a Veterans Wall of Honor to pay tribute to former students who have served their country and as a lesson plan you can’t get from a textbook.
“Whether you are hawkish or dovish, again, these are people. These kids were you,” Labenz explained what the wall teaches students.
The Wall of Honor will be dedicated on Veteran’s Day.
One portion of it features dog tags representing graduates in every branch of the military.
“We know these people. We know their stories. We know their names, their neighbors, their friends,” Anderson said. “These shadow boxes have the dog tag names. And again, we’re still working on them. We don’t have all of them. I believe we’ve just scratched the surface.”
On another part of the memorial are photographs honoring those who gave their lives in service of their country.
“These are their pictures. They have all the same hopes and dreams that these kids did,” Labenz said.
What really sets the lesson apart is the touch screen featuring photos and details of the graduates’ lives and experiences. Students can look up alumni who served and those killed in action.
“…You can look for anybody, and this is limitless. We can put anything we want on here,” Labenz said of the program.
Anderson and Labenz said there is plenty of room to expand the wall, which was built with donated items from the community. The community has also provided much of the veteran information.
“There’s no record of who goes on to the military. A lot of times, it might be a year after they graduate that they go into the military, so there’s no record of it here at the high school,” Anderson said.
The wall will also serve as a reference for future lesson plans and a reminder of duty and sacrifice by those who walked these same hallways.
“This will be a great opportunity for students to go out and interview community members and alumni who are living right around the corner and have stories to tell and history to teach us,” Anderson said. “I am changed. And I know the students who will be involved moving forward in developing historical evidence and helping us gather more, they will be moved as well.”