SARCOXIE, Mo. – Future Farmers of America students at Sarcoxie High School have taken it upon themselves to fund and build a new veterans memorial area in honor of former and current servicemembers.
In recent months the school had been renovating its main office and primary entrance, which are known for flooding and drainage issues. Construction led to the displacement of the school’s original flagpole.
That got FFA chapter officers’ heads churning about building a memorial to commemorate local veterans and helping fix some of the lingering flood issues – while picking up some new life skills along the way.
“We learned the work it takes,” Sarcoxie FFA Chapter President Baron Ellis told The Heartlander. “How to pour concrete, how to set forms, how to make sure everything is square. We learned how to cut it using a concrete saw. Life lessons throughout the whole deal.”
Sarcoxie Agriculture Instructor Jeff Rush says he contacted former student Gavin Currey of C&D Excavating to prepare the site for his Ag Structures class to begin construction. Rush said he believes the memorial will show students the sacrifices veterans make for the United States each day as they walk by the memorial.
Along with a fix to the drainage problem, the memorial consists of three flagpoles, new lighting and four granite benches dedicated to the four branches of the U.S. military. Pat Snyder of West Chestnut Monument in Carthage produced and sold the granite benches at cost, for $5,000 apiece. Additional cost for the flagpoles was $2,800.
Good thing the FFA chapter hosts fundraisers throughout the year.
“Over the past several years we have raised more money than we normally use to run the chapter throughout the year,” Rush said. “We were trying to find a way to give back to the school and community.”
Rush believes the money for the memorial was well-spent. The instructor says he’s increasingly proud of his FFA chapter for its hard work, and is happy the group could put something together honoring veterans.
“It meant a lot to give back to the school and build something that is going to be here for our kids and their kids,” Sarcoxie FFA member Cleyton Jackson told The Heartlander. “It is a sense of pride that we put into it. Whenever we were out there working on it, you would see a lot of kids coming down the hallway looking out the windows at us. You know you can say, ‘Hey I built that and gave back to the veterans.’ It’s nice to be able to say more than just, ‘Thank you for your service.’
It’s a way of giving them something they will be able to see.”
Sarcoxie students and veterans gathered for the district’s Veterans Day ceremony to dedicate the memorial to those who served or will serve in the U.S. Armed Forces.
Jackson said his FFA chapter received plenty of compliments as they welcomed veterans into the assembly, and that it felt good knowing they made their community proud with the generous chapter dedication.