CHILLICOTHE — Some students from Pickaway-Ross Career and Technology Center have come together to help raise funds for a garden at the VA in Ross County.
Welding students Tray Keeton, whose home school is Westfall, and Braden Sabine, whose home school is Logan Elm, worked together to weld a metal American flag that was then painted by auto collision repair students, Chris Johnson, Isaiah Maughmer and Mason Willis.
Sabine and Keeton spent about 50 hours all together welding the project, which is already underway being raffled off. Sabine is in the SkillsUSA Program of which English Teacher Tea McCulla is the adviser.
“We are looking at putting a youth garden in next to the healing garden in at the Chillicothe VA,” Sabine said. “We’ll have instruments for the youth, raised beds and shrubs, things like that. She wanted us to build something that we could raffle off to raise money for it. We brainstormed some ideas and we found the flag would be the best thing to build and we built the flag and all the money we raise will go to the garden.”
Sabine said he was originally going to complete the project himself but partnered up with Keeton, who has joined the Army National Guard, on the project.
“We started drawing out the blueprints and called the steel company,” he said.
“Everything on the construction was done by us, start to finish.”
Sabine and Keeton compared their designs and sought other information by using the internet before beginning the work. They decided to go with two-by-four-inch metal pipes to make the flag.
“We cut the stars out of steel plate and it all just came together,” Sabine said. “We didn’t really run into any problems with it.”
Sabine and Keeton said it was an honor to put the piece together.
“I think [veterans] should have a place to come home to and relax,” he said. “Our SkillsUSA Program is so passionate about what we do and I just want to be a part of it.”
Keeton added, “It feels good to give back to the community and I enjoyed doing this.”
Sabine has family who served in the military; Keeton said his grandfather was a tanker in the Army.
Keeton completed basic training last summer and will complete is infantry training next summer.
Brian Morrison, auto collision repair instructor, said he was proud of all of the students who got involved.
“What really impressed me was the pride the students showed in their work,” he said. “They put a lot of effort into it and I know the cause behind it. It was a pleasure see it come together.”
McCulla said the healing garden at the VA is something students have worked on for the last few years.
“Each year, we focus on something new with it and this year, we’re going to focus on the youth garden,” she said.
“We’d like to create paths that will go straight into that way; when veterans come and bring their children and grandchildren, they have a place to play. We’ll have raised beds and our students will be taking part of planting vegetables and herbs and there will be area where the kids can dig. We’ll have trees that will go behind with bushes and flowers.”
McCulla said the kids were inspired after a stop at the Franklin Park Conservatory in Columbus.
“Some of the students saw the musical instruments they had in their children’s gardens and were excited to include them in the plans,” she said. “I think the healing garden is much more than a project; it’s a gift that continues to give.
There’s no doubt in my mind that it’ll be there for generations. The students have put their heart and soul into that garden. Each year, it continues to grow. There’s a lot of heart and pride that the students have put into it.”