Lives were saved and life lessons learned at Dominion Middle School last week.

Lives were saved and life lessons learned at Dominion Middle School last week.

The latter probably happens on a daily basis when classes are in session. The former, far rarer, took the form of a blood drive concocted by what Columbus City Schools officials dubbed "Pint-Sized Heroes," the students themselves.

Although too young to donate blood, the sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders at the Clintonville middle school were inspired by a voluntary assembly put on by the American Red Cross to recruit adults to be donors, according to principal Dorothy K. "Dottie" Flanagan.

The youngsters got their parents, teachers and even community members to turn out for the drive, which was held in the school's library from noon to 6 p.m. March 25.

The students were spurred to serve as ambassadors for the American Red Cross by not only what they heard in the assembly, but also by their principal's personal story. Flanagan said that she very nearly died a while ago, and two blood transfusions helped save her life.

In the weeks leading up to the day of the drive, Dominion Middle School teachers took advantage of the occasion to have the students learn more about blood and its uses in health care.

It was a perfect convergence of a service project and a teaching moment, Flanagan said.

"This is the ultimate learning opportunity," she said.

Dominion Middle School personnel are hoping to make the "Pint-Sized Heroes" blood drive an annual event, the principal added.

Eighth-grader Bert Pajor said that he persuaded both his mother and father, who regularly donate blood at their church, to participate in last week's drive.

Younger sister Alice Pajor, who is in the sixth grade, disputed that, saying he was taking credit for what was at least half her doing.

In any event, and all sibling rivalry aside, both said they learned a lot about blood as the donation day approached.

"There are so many different uses that aren't that well known about," Bert said.

Rasel Raihan, another eighth-grader, got his mother to donate blood last week. He said that he already had learned a lot about blood while studying stem cell research for a debate class, but he was interested to learn that blood donated by people in the United States can sometimes be used all over the world in instances of natural disaster.

"I learned a lot of stuff about how blood works in the body and how it can save people's lives," sixth-grader Meaghan Kelley said.

Fellow sixth-grader Zahnayhia Hasan-Saunders agreed that it had been interesting to learn so much about blood.

Andrea Suter, who teaches hearing-impaired students at Dominion Middle School, was among the faculty members stretched out while Red Cross personnel prepared to tap her for a pint of the red stuff.

Suter said that she donates blood frequently, but was participating in the "Pint-Sized Heroes" drive with an added purpose. Most of the parents of her students don't give blood, so Suter said that she was doing so to serve as a role model for them. When they saw her, bandaged but still standing and essentially undamaged, back in front of their class, Suter was hoping her students would perhaps be inspired to one day become blood donors themselves.

Of course, Suter said, there are some difficulties to overcome.

"Some of them are grossed out by blood."

kparks@thisweeknews.com