The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Local News

August 21, 2013

Students' call to duty

Veterans to lend hand with school's new initiative

School doesn’t officially start in District 118 until Monday, but earlier this week Meade Park Elementary School Principal Mendy Spesard said she can hardly wait for the children to return to the east side school.

“I can’t wait for this school year to start,” she said.

When it does, Spesard has a surprise for the students that she has been working on since February.

Students will be greeted on Monday by a large American flag on a central hallway bulletin board that Spesard decorated by hand. Within the American flag are the logos for the five military branches.

The patriotic theme is a nod to the new military-inspired initiative for the school’s kindergartners through fifth-graders that will launch this school year. The initiative will see the school’s staff wearing either pink camouflage or traditional green camouflage shirts that read “Meade Park has GRIT,” an acronym that will remind the students to be genuine, resourceful, innovative and tenacious.

In keeping with the theme, a new banner has been ordered for the front of the school on Kansas Street that will read “Meade Park: Just Off the Highway of Heroes and Hope.”

Spesard said she borrowed the motto for the banner from Mayor Scott Eisenhauer’s presentation almost two weeks ago at the grand opening of the new McDonald’s at Main Street and Bowman Avenue at which he dubbed the restaurant’s flag garden and city entryway as the “Highway of Heroes and Hope.”

The motto is fitting since the school, which borders the Danville National Cemetery, has had a longstanding relationship with the Veterans Affairs Illiana Health Care System.

“Our first-graders spend time visiting the veterans every Halloween with their costumes, and our fifth-graders collect the flags from the gravestones after Memorial Day,” she said.

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