Eighth-grade students in Michelle Gibbar's language arts classes at Rim Country Middle School spent the week before Veterans Day honoring military personnel, past and present.
During a poetry unit, students discussed freedoms, the differences between veterans and soldiers, and then read the poem "Barbara Fritchie" by John Greenleaf Whittier.
Students created visual interpretations of the poems and matched them with poetic themes of their own in later classes.
"Then the students were responsible for making a set of four postcards that incorporated the theme of the poem and the freedom for which they are thankful," Gibbar said. "The cards had to be hand-drawn and decorated."
Once the cards were completed, Gibbar supplied the students with a list of veterans' names and addresses she has been compiling through the years.
"I began with a group of addresses I received from the Ladies Auxiliary many moons ago," Gibbar said. "I collect additional addresses each year."
The project ended with students addressing their handmade cards to veterans then mailing them at the end of the week.
The project, Gibbar said, is a good way to help the students learn values and honor veterans at the same time.
The teacher said most of the veterans who have responded were grateful to the students.
Student Summer Stone was among those who participated in the project.
"I learned about couplets (two lines of poetry whose ends rhyme) and with the four postcards we could honor the veterans," she said.
by John Greenleaf Whittier
"Up from the meadows rich with corn,
Clear in the September morn,
The clustered spires of Frederick stand,
Green-walled by the hills of Maryland.
Round about them orchards sweep,
Apple and peach tree fruited deep,
Fair as the garden of the Lord
To the eyes of the famished rebel horde;
On that pleasant morn of the early fall
When Lee marched over the mountain wall,
Over the mountains winding down,
Horse and foot, into Frederick town.
Forty flags with their silver stars,
Forty flags with their crimson bars,
Flapped in the morning wind: the sun
Of noon looked down, and saw not one.
Up rose old Barbara Fritchie then,
Bowed with her fourscore years and ten;
Bravest of all in Frederick town,
She took up the flag the men hauled down;
In her attic window the staff she set,
To show that one heart was loyal yet.
Up the street came the rebel tread,
Stonewall Jackson riding ahead.
Under his slouched hat left and right
He glanced: the old flag met his sight.
"Halt!"- the dust-brown ranks stood fast;
"Fire!"- out blazed the rifle-blast.
It shivered the window, pane and sash;
It rent the banner with seam and gash.
Quick, as it fell from the broken staff
Dame Barbara snatched the silken scarf;
She leaned far out on the window-sill,
And shook it forth with a royal will.
"Shoot, if you must, this old gray head,
But spare your country's flag", she said.
A shade of sadness, a blush of shame,
Over the face of the leader came;
The nobler nature within him stirred
To life at that woman's deed and word;
"Who touches a hair of yon gray head
Dies like a dog! March on!" he said.
All day long that free flag tost
Over the heads of the rebel host.
Ever its torn folds rose and fell
On the loyal winds that loved it well;
And through the hill-gaps sunset light
Shone over it with a warm good-night.
Barbara Fritchie's work is o'er,
And the Rebel rides on his raids no more.
Honor to her! and let a tear
Fall, for her sake, on Stonewall's bier.
Over Barbara Fritchie's grave,
Flag of Freedom and Union, wave!
Peace and order and beauty draw
Round thy symbol of light and law;
And ever the stars look down
On thy stars below in Frederick town!"