Partners In Education Spotlight: West Hall Middle School’s Patriot Park
Keeping “Patriotism” Alive
One definition of a partner is “a person who shares or is associated with another in some action or endeavor, a player on the same side or team as another.” Partners lock arms around a common vision to turn dreams into realities. This definition of a partner is never more true than when it refers to the business partners who have stepped up in miraculous ways to make the dreams of schools and students come true.
This is exactly what the outstanding Partners in Education have done for West Hall Middle School (WHMS). The West Hall Middle School Patriots have always known that their mascot, a Patriot, was more than just a symbol, it embodies the best, the bravest, and most honorable goals of men and women who stand for freedom and liberty. When the vision of a Patriot Park developed, WHMS realized how important it would be to share that vision with the school’s business partners. Patriot Park was to be a way to honor our veterans, outstanding community members and students. It would be a constant reminder of what it means to carry on in the Patriotic tradition of our countrymen.
After writing to troops in Iraq, the vision became even more compelling, and to some degree all 22 business partners helped out. Whether it was a KFC, Pizza Hut, Arby’s or Chick-Fil-A Family night, proceeds helped to fulfill the dream. Teachers at WHMS even ordered KFC one Tuesday each month to show appreciation for Kentucky Fried Chicken’s willingness to donate 10% of all sales to WHMS on those Tuesdays.
Nathan Turner, a former WHMS student now at West Hall High, made the vision of the park a personal one as he took on the park project as part of his Eagle Scout Project. Now as we look at what has been accomplished by the amazing donations of time, money, and effort, we all pause to praise our partners some of whom donated all the time, supplies, and services free of charge to make a dream come true. Sunset Landscapes owner, Ronny McFarland provided the round-up, shrubs, trees, boulders, ground covering and labor to set everything but the marble memorial in place. Ronny reminded us that his Dad, Ron was a Vietnam veteran, his grandfather Clarence, was a World War II veteran, and his brother-in-law is presently serving in Iraq. “It just makes me feel good to do this for the school and the kids,” he commented after hours of work. Clearly to us it is a family tradition to serve, and Ronny’s work in serving WHMS is no less important than his family members who served our country. All these efforts help us ensure that the democratic traditions and the power of free enterprise are handed down to our children.
John Fields of Fields Monument in Elberton donated and placed the monument while Hillcrest Granite donated “walkway” granite stones, and J.B. Stones donated 100 stones for engraving with parents, teachers, and administrators purchasing almost half of those to engrave a special place for a special Patriot. With all the donations from these and other partners, the entire project cost was under $1000 dollars and will stand as a lasting monument reflecting the heart of this community and school.
Finally, the park was ready for 9/11 memorial programs. The final dedication will be during the first week in November as WHMS takes time to honor our veterans. Students have been interviewing vets and writing notes of gratitude to them to show appreciation for all that has been given to ensure our freedom.
“After almost 28 years in the Hall County School System, I know our Hall County Business Partners never let us down, and more importantly, they constantly build up our students and our schools,” said West Hall Middle Principal Dr. Sarah Justus.
The Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce Partners in Education program seeks to promote business and education/school partnerships. Currently, there are over 350 business/school partnerships in 41 local schools. Details: Karen Long, 770-532-6206. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org