Seniors taking Celeste Barnes' environmental science II course at Spring Grove Area High School have taken on some ambitious projects in the past.
They've established gardens, restored wetlands near the school, and started school-wide composting.
This year, they're taking on a project with extra meaning.
In recent years, Spring Grove has lost three graduates who died in the line of military or police duty: David Tome, a 1996 graduate hit by a car while working as a Northern York County Regional Police officer in 2008; Luke Runyan, a 2004 graduate killed in Iraq in 2008; and Cameron Stambaugh, a 2010 grad who was killed in Afghanistan this summer.
Barnes said that with
Students are going to create a veterans memorial garden near the high school entrance. It will honor Spring Grove graduates who have died in service, either military, starting with the Vietnam era, or emergency service to the community, like police officers or firefighters, according to a news release.
Students were enthusiastic about the idea, Barnes said. Some know the families of those who have died. A few of her students have already enlisted.
"It's very real to them," she said.
Some students said they remembered Stambaugh. Even if they didn't know him, they remembered passing in the halls.
"It hits home," said senior Arielle Green.
Students will be doing all of the work for the project -- the digging, planting and building of the garden. Members of the National Art Honor Society will also be creating a work of art for the garden.
"My dad's in the Navy, so it's really cool (we're) doing something that honors what he does for a living," said Nikki Filbey, a senior.
Family members of some of the fallen graduates attended a groundbreaking
"It's awesome," said Lynette Runyan-Baker, Luke Runyan's mother. Anything anyone can do to show patriotism is a good thing, she said.
Pam Smith, Stambaugh's mother, said she liked hearing Barnes speak of the students' dedication to the project.
"We need the young to step up to the plate and do something like this," she said.
About the plans
Students will be working to create a veterans memorial garden outside Spring Grove High School. Environmental science II students will be creating the garden, and National Art Honor Society students will be creating a work of art, likely a sculpture or ceramic mural.
Douglas Rohrbaugh, of Crabtree, Rohrbaugh and Associates, has volunteered to help along with a landscape artist to define the layout and pick the best trees and plants. The firm will also provide the trees, according to a news release.
Funding will come from donations. The final design will be developed over the winter months, and plans call for the garden to be finished in the spring.