Randy Ark, an advocate for military veterans in Springfield, Ohio, is commending local welding students for supporting the men and women in uniform who fought for the freedoms we have as Americans.

Students with the Clark Career Technology Center donated $1,000 earned from a recent Welding Rodeo to renovate Clark County Veteran’s Memorial Park and send veterans to Washington, D.C. to tour national memorials in their honor, the Springfield News-Sun reports.

Students raised a total of $3,600 by selling unique structures made from scrap metal at the Rodeo, and donated $500 each to the park and Honor Flight Dayton, a nonprofit that takes veterans and their families and caregivers to the nation’s capital.

Ark told the news site the donations are a big deal, for several reasons.

“One is to getting the money for the park, which we need, and two is the attitude of these young students,” he said, adding that it’s the second time in the last few years students have donated a portion of their profits.

Ark said local veterans are raising $380,000 to finish a memorial at the park that will feature a Vietnam area, stage, benches, and an arbor with vegetation. Funds will also pay for landscaping and engravings on the monuments, the Sun-News reports.

Al Bailey, with Honor Flight Dayton, told the news site the students’ $500 donation is enough to send at least one veteran to D.C.

“To send a veteran back to D.C. to see the memorials is $500, so we’re doing whatever we can to raise that kind of money,” he said.

Junior Zack Parcels said he was happy to put his welding skills to good use by creating a derby bike that sold at the rodeo for $50.

“It feels good just to know that the things that we can make out of nothing can sell to help the community,” he said.

Researchers at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture stress the importance of developing spheres of moral obligation. It is here where one develops a sense of responsibility for and ownership of something larger than oneself. Rural schools, their research found, are particularly strong in fostering these connections, with immigration, religion, and military being the top three. Great teachers, they write, “In addition to building greater knowledge of cultures and societies outside of the US, were aiming primarily to build social-perspective taking, empathy and general critical thinking skills” (The Content of Their Character, p. 63).

Fostering empathy, social-perspective taking and general critical thinking takes talent and skill on the part of teachers and this type of work is very challenging for educators.  To gain support to do this work teachers will benefit from the strategies offered by the UK's The Jubilee Centre.  In particular, teachers will find information to strengthen character formation here.

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