Blacklick Elementary School held a special ceremony Dec. 18 to recognize students for their commitment to send World War II veterans to Washington, D.C.

Blacklick Elementary School held a special ceremony Dec. 18 to recognize students for their commitment to send World War II veterans to Washington, D.C.

Students in Gahanna Lincoln High School's broadcast journalism program are hoping to raise $10,000 to send a plane full of veterans to Washington, D.C., to visit the memorial in their honor.

Students also hope to provide the guardians for the flight -- one for each veteran. There are 50 veterans on a trip.

Blacklick students raised more than $2,400 through a coin war at the school, principal Robin Schmidt said.

The premise of the contest was to put coins in other teacher's containers. The teacher with the least amount of coins won the contest. Schmidt said the contest also encouraged students to strategize in order to see their teacher win.

"We were really taken aback," Schmidt said of the students' effort.

She said Blacklick hosts a Veterans Day assembly each year. This year the school showed a video produced by the broadcast-journalism students about Honor Flight (To see the video, visit ThisWeekNews.com and click on the HighSchool NewsDesk link). Students were glad to see the video and participate in the community-service project.

Schmidt said she would have been surprised if students raised $1,000. But fourth-graders alone raised $900.

Most of the money for the fundraiser came in on Friday. Every teacher with a spare moment, the school nurse and custodian helped count the money, Schmidt said.

At the Veterans Day celebration, school custodian Ed Morris also spoke with students. He had gone on the honor flight as a guardian.

Morris said he got involved because his wife Marta made a donation in honor of her father and was invited to participate as a guardian.

"When she came back and I saw the World War II veterans come in, people honoring them, you just kind of get shook up," he said. "You needed to help them make sure they saw their memorial."

The Honor Flight takes off on a Saturday. Guardians are responsible for helping vets through security, escorting them to the bathroom and getting breakfast before they board.

Veterans fly to Maryland and take a bus to Washington. Guardians may secure wheelchairs or just lend an ear.

"You take them anywhere they want to go," Morris said. "You talk to them."

Veterans have lunch in Washington, D.C., tour monuments and Arlington Cemetery. On the way home they participate in mail call. Students write the veterans' letters thanking them for their service.

One of the most moving experiences is the wall of stars, Morris said. There are 4,000 stars and every star represents 100 soldiers who died. Veterans remember their friends that didn't make it, Morris said.

"There are some teary-eyed veterans on the bus ride back to the airport," he said.

When veterans get back to Columbus they are greeted by different groups of people, including Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Girl Scouts and the Boy Scouts.

"There is nothing more rewarding than the stories they tell, the smiles they give when they see their monument and the tears they shed," Morris said.

Fourth-grade Blacklick student Emily Rogers said students liked raising money for the Honor Flight.

"We got hyped about bringing the money in," she said.

"I liked it because it was a great thing to do for WWII veterans," said fourth-grader Isabelle Jones. "That is why everyone brought in so much money."

Fourth-grader Jake Selk said his grandfather was in World War II. He and his mom thought it would be a great way to honor his memory.

"I really wanted to get involved," he said. "It was for a good cause."

Jimmy Tebbe, fourth grade, said it was important to participate in the fundraiser because the WWII veterans served in one of the biggest wars and risked their lives for freedom.

"They did us a big turn," he said. "It is time for us to do one for them."

Fourth-grader Cael Baker liked hearing Morris talk about serving as an Honor Flight guardian.

"They did something for us, we should do something for them," he said.

Fourth-grade teacher Ed Thomas won the contest.

"We are the real winners because (veterans) get to see the memorial," he said.