The Warwick Veterans Memorial High School’s Governance Organization wants to make sure their classmates remember and honor Memorial Day this year.
They are creating a display of war and armed forces memorabilia, loaned by Warwick veterans and community members.
“We are Warwick Vets,” said Alexandra Dreyer, a junior. “This is trying to promote that and make [students] realize that.”
The group feels it is important to honor veterans and remind their classmates, and young people in the area, of those who have risked their lives to fight for the country.
“I think it is important for [veterans] to know we haven’t forgotten them,” said Samia Pratt, a freshman.
“We see it as a way to memorialize veterans from Warwick,” said Alexandra Paul, a senior.
To do this, the group aims to collect various items from all branches of the military to display in four cases in the main corridor of the school, near the main office.
All of the items will be collected from the community, and Dreyer explained that they would be considered “on-loan” and returned to the donors before the end of the school year.
Michael Sollitto, a social studies teacher at Warwick Vets and the Governance Organization’s advisor, added that the display cases would remain locked at all times so memorabilia would be kept safe.
Memorabilia can be from any branch of the armed forces and can include the following: awards, medals, letters, dog tags, uniforms, documents issued by the military such as enlistments or draft letters, photographs, etc.
The displays will not include weapons or ammunition.
The students also encourage people to submit a short paragraph explaining the item’s significance or personal reflections of the veteran’s experience along with the item.
Memorabilia can be from any war including Iraq and Afghanistan, but it should be connected to Warwick in some way.
When it comes to soliciting donations, the group has a few ideas to get the word out, starting with the school itself.
“We are reaching out to teachers, secretaries, everyone in the school first, then students,” said Dreyer.
The staff and faculty will be reached through the school’s e-mail system. Students are being reached through social media, flyers and word-of-mouth.
The students have also discussed reaching out to Veterans of Foreign Wars posts in the area and other city organizations.
Alongside the memorabilia, the Governance Organization will display the senior project of Mason Martino, a member of the class of 2012. He created a display for Korean War veterans killed during the war.
Donations will be collected until Friday, May 10 and the students hope to have the display ready for Monday, May 24.
Sollitto explained that since the public cannot just enter the school to see the display, they hope to host a public event so the project can be viewed.
“It’s kind of ambitious,” said Sollitto of the project, adding that this is the main focus of the organization at this time. “Eventually, we would like to see a permanent display,” he said.
Throughout the school year, the Governance Organization acts as a typical student government organization. There are 28 students involved and they all participate on a voluntary basis. However, there is no president or executive board; they feel it keeps all of the members equal.
“We talk about issues in the school and how to improve the school and the facility,” said Christopher Smith, a freshman. This year, they worked to make sure all of the locks on the bathroom stalls were repaired.
“We are working on drinking fountains and getting a new one in the gym,” said Dreyer.
Each year, however, their largest undertaking is the Pennies From Heaven fundraiser. All of the money raised during the event is used to help Warwick Vets students and community members that are in need. The money goes to providing items such as clothing or school supplies and can even go as far as helping with medical needs.
This year, the school raised $1,600 through Pennies From Heaven.
The high school is the end point of the city’s Memorial Day Parade. While the Governance Organization has no plans to participate, they plan to have a presence that day.
“We want to encourage our students to be in front of Vets that Monday during the parade to show support,” said Sollitto.
He also thinks the school should “challenge” Pilgrim High School and Toll Gate High School to attend the parade and show that Warwick’s young people not only remember but honor the city’s veterans.
For any display-relation questions or donations, contact Michael Sollitto at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 368-4742.