For the past two years, groups of Flagstaff High School students participated in a project called the Veterans Heritage Project (VHP) lead by Cactus Shadows High School in Phoenix . This year 10 students, which included mostly seniors, worked for 10 months to complete their part of this “very stressful but fun and rewarding” project according to the students.
Each year the Veterans Heritage Project selects a branch of the service to focus on and the students interview and write about a veteran from their hometown. The interviews are compiled and put into a book that is kept in the Library of Congress.
“VHP has given me not only the opportunity to learn about the real superheroes of the time but also a chance to grow as an individual,” Kayla Bond, a FHS student, said.
The purpose of this project is to show appreciation and help bring more attention to local veterans and their experiences.
FHS teacher Shelly Stearns is very clear with the students that “this is not an English essay, the students must be very careful how this material is gathered and presented”.
The students learned the art of interviewing. They also said that they have learned a lot about respect, trust and the importance of telling someone else’s story.
“I interviewed a U.S. Marine who served in Vietnam and received the Purple Heart for being wounded in the arm and leg,” said student Justin McElfresh. “One thing he told me that stuck with me was ‘Don’t be afraid to do what you want to do, even if you have to bend you’ll stay straight and good things will come out of it.’ ”
Ms. Stearns’ students showed a great sense of maturity and respect when telling these stories of appreciation and individual sacrifice.
“Interviewing my veteran has opened my eyes,” Kassie Sands, a participating student of the VHA project, said. “Listening to his life adventures not only shows his bravery, but shows how much our veterans sacrificed for our country.”