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Students send big message to troops

Every semester, the small group of students in Herbert Hoover High School's National Honors Society has a meeting to sit down and decide what to do for a service project.

There are a lot of important things that they could do but, inevitably, a number of them don't strike the right chord: food drives and toy drives are great, but the school has done them before. Lots of projects offer help on a national scale, but the kids like to keep it local.

This year, after a brainstorming session, the group gravitated toward a project to benefit military troops serving overseas.

Originally, they thought they would just buy a bunch of greeting cards to send to the troops, but soon it became more involved.

"They really wanted to do something different," said Heather Lyons, a teacher at Herbert Hoover and the National Honors Society adviser.

They wanted to do something that would have a lot of impact, she said, and they wanted to get the whole school involved.

There are probably ways to do that that don't involve shepherding some 800 people onto a football field and into a complicated pattern, but the kids didn't want to do any of them.

The group decided to have postcards made specifically for their purposes, and let every student in the school sign one. For the front of the cards, they envisioned a photo that would include the entire student body.

"They were really excited about it," Lyons said. "And I think they realized how important it was to say 'thank you' and to do it in a fun way."

They orchestrated a move to get the school - all of the students, faculty and staff - to gather on the football field, in clumps of people that form the letters HHHS (for Herbert Hoover High School). That's 800 people.

"It was a little tricky," Lyons said.

The end result pares the photo with a message wishing service members a "safe and happy holiday."

Students were given a card to personalize and sign before sending. Lyons said the cards were filled with well-wishes and holiday greetings, but that some of the students went well beyond that, telling the service members about their own plans to serve or their personal connections with the military.

"A lot of them have a family member who is in a branch of the service, they know someone, they have classmates," Lyons said. "I think it really hit home for them."

Contact writer Shay Maunz at or 304-348-4886.


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