News and Tribune

December 14, 2013

DOING THEIR DUTY: Hazelwood students lay wreaths at National Cemetery

By JEROD CLAPP
jerod.clapp@newsandtribune.com

NEW ALBANY — Snow remained around many of the headstones even as temperatures rose. Bundled up in warm hats, coats and gloves, they carried on a tradition their predecessors have done for nearly 10 years.

Fifth-graders at Hazelwood Middle School made their annual walk to the New Albany National Cemetery on Friday to place wreaths on the graves of the soldiers buried there.

Teresa Shireman, who has brought her students on the trip each of the last eight years, said she was glad to do it while she was still teaching at Slate Run and is glad to do it now.

“To bring them here and to talk about someone’s ultimate service, I think that just kind of ties that in,” Shireman said. “At Hazelwood, we’re really trying to build up community leaders.”

Students did more than lay the wreaths down, they raised the money to pay for them.

Shireman said starting in about September, students began working on their persuasive letters to donate to the project. After writing in to doctors, places where their parents work and other potential donors, they collected about $2,500.

Teresa’s husband, Dennis, was the master of the ceremony for the event. He said even though it’s something students are familiar with, it’s nice to give each new group a chance to experience the ceremony.

“Even though we’ve been doing this for eight years and sort of doing the same thing, it’s the first time for these kids,” Dennis Shireman said. “It’s a new experience for them and it’s really kind of neat. It’s fun to explain something to them that they may not know. A lot of people understand it, but some don’t understand the sacrifice and commitment it takes to be in the military.”

Teresa Shireman said she keeps hearing from students about their family who served in the military, or about how their curious whether they’re related to anyone buried in the cemetery.

She said it always makes her feel good to know her students understand the meaning behind the commemoration they offer every year.

“Just today, we were going over some last minute things,” Teresa Shireman said. “It was interesting to hear from the kids that their uncle was still serving, or their grandpa served in the war. But they all are so good about having a connection and talking about their family that served. It’s one thing that makes us feel like we have a little ownership over here.”