FARNHAMVILLE - The fathers of two Prairie Valley Elementary School kindergarten students will be receiving an extra special, patriotic Christmas gift this year while they are deployed to Afghanistan with the National Guard.
With the help from their classroom teacher, Sarah Riesgraf, and art teacher Pam Nelson, the class recently created two large American flags from sheets which feature each of the 19 students' handprints as the red stripes, and hand stamped stars on blue fabric. To add a personal touch, each student also signed their names on the flag.
The flags will be sent to Sgt. David Correll, of Callender, father of kindergartner Drew Correll and 9-year-old Lexi Correll, 7-year-old Addie Correll and 3-year-old Anna Correll, all of whom are also students at PV Elementary; and 1st Sgt. Brian Lindner, of Somers, father of kindergartner Miranda Lindner and 12-year-old Baylee Lindner.
Riesgraf said she also had a student a few years ago whose father was stationed in Kosovo, and that class created a Christmas wreath of the student's handprints as a gift.
"A few years later, that dad came to me at conferences and said he had always meant to thank us for the wreath; that he really appreciated it," she said. "This time we have two students with dads overseas and they are both in my classroom, so I decided to do a Christmas gift again, but to make something that could hang all year."
Although Correll and Lindner are both with the 133rd Brigade, they are stationed in different regions of Afghanistan. Correll deployed last week to Camp Dubs, Darulaman in southwest Kabul. Lindner has been stationed in Mehtar-Lam, Afghanistan for about a month. Both are expected to be deployed for about one year.
The flags will be sent to the soldiers soon, but are currently on display, along with photographs of Lindner and Corell, in a display case at the school.
Reisgraf said the project has helped the students understand the responsibility of the jobs their classmates' dads have in the military, and has also helped raise the spirits of the students who are missing their fathers.
"They were a little sad," she said. "So we are making this positive. The kids know how important these dads' jobs really are."
Contact Emilie Nelson at (515) 573-2141 or firstname.lastname@example.org