Gurney Staff and Students Place Wreaths at Evergreen Cemetery

Gurney Elementary School students and staff have been busy preparing wreaths as part of the Wreaths Across America project. Wreaths Across America is a national organization that builds wreaths and has volunteers place them on veterans’ grave sites across the country during the holidays. 

This past November, the Gurney Service Learning Club visited the residents of Hamlet Senior Living and worked on creating these wreaths together.  On December 3, Gurney staff members prepared Evergreen Cemetery by placing flags at the headstones of veterans.  These flags were markers for the actual wreath laying that took place on December 17.  Students placed a wreath on each grave site in memory of the veterans.

“It was interesting to learn that there are 867 veterans in Evergreen Hill Cemetery,” said STEM teacher Sally Gallick. “My husband and I enjoyed finding each tombstone and placing an American flag on each veteran's grave.  It was a special morning honoring those who did so much for our country.”

Andy Sworan, Chagrin Falls Schools’ 1972 graduate and dad to middle school teacher Jessica Johnson and grandpa to the Johnson and Sworan students who go to Gurney, Intermediate, and Middle School said, “The kids enjoyed looking for the stone, and we had brief discussions about the different wars. My objective was to get them into a service project. At the last minute it became a family project.  I'm happy that it exposed the little ones to so much of the community, run by volunteers, that made the magic of Chagrin happen. It also teaches them how to give.”

“The mission of Wreaths Across America is to Remember, Honor and Teach - which is exactly what our students are getting out of this volunteer activity,” said Principal Rachel Jones, Gurney Elementary School.  “They are empathizing, learning our history and some may even be remembering their own family members who were veterans. It really is a simple yet very valuable experience.”

Mindy Paradise and her daughter, Maddie, volunteered.  It was an optional service event with their local Girl Scout troop and they thought it would be a special opportunity to give back to veterans and their families for the holiday season.  “This event was even more special for our family because my dad, and Maddie’s grandfather, is buried at this cemetery and received a wreath as a Vietnam veteran,” said Paradise.