News Column

Clark State one step closer to new veterans memorial

June 8, 2014

By Darryl Bauer, Springfield News-Sun, Ohio

June 08--SPRINGFIELD -- With the recent unveiling of the final design, Clark State Community College's student senate is one step closer to creating an outdoor art memorial on its main East Leffel Lane campus to honor our nation's fallen military personnel.

The idea came from Scott Cody, a member of the student senate and a seven-year veteran of the U.S. Army who served a year in Iraq.

Cody admitted that when he first came to Clark State, he was just an average student and felt overlooked.

"I didn't feel like I stood out or that the school cared about me as a student or as a veteran," he said.

That changed after he was urged to join the student senate's Student Ambassador Program and was given the task to find a way to reach out to students who were also veterans, because as he said, "I wasn't the only one seeing the problem; the school did, too."

The 26-year old Cody first proposed the idea for the memorial at the end of 2013.

"The memorial project is a gift from the students and our community to veterans both on and off campus, so we wanted to have the original design come from our students as well," he said.

More than 50 submissions were entered for consideration and "we were blown away by the creativity and thoughtfulness put into each design," said Cody.

Jennifer Dietsch, Clark State Director of Marketing, said veteran students and student senate members commented on the designs before turning them over to judges Ann Fortescue, Executive Director of the Springfield Museum of Art, and Mike Major, a sculptor and artist from Urbana.

The final design includes elements of eagle wings, raised hands holding a set of dog tags and a folded American flag. Those elements came from designs submitted by students Adric Avery (wings), Audrey Fletcher (hands holding dog tags), Erica Bunish (flag) and Elizabeth Kimmel (flag).

"(The project) is definitely a priority for the college," Dietsch said. "We're always looking for ways to engage students and to connect with all students.

"We think it's going to be a nice way to tie the students together with the community at-large," she added. "It's a 100 percent student project."

She added in the last year, the college has established a new veterans affairs position that led to a one-stop point-of-contact to help veterans who become Clark State students, which is a growing trend.

Cody said response to the project has been very good.

"It's been a fantastic welcoming of it," Cody said, adding it has led to a number of people sharing stories of those who have served in the military.

The sale of $15 T-shirts bearing a student-designed logo has netted $1,500 and raised awareness of the project.

The next step is raising $50,000 to have the memorial created and installed. Plans call for that to be accomplished in a number of ways, including using social media and volunteers from the Clark State Foundation advising the students on other options.

Dietsch said the memorial will be placed behind the Sarah T. Landess Technology and Learning Center, which is located in the middle of campus. The site will include a 360-degree view of the memorial, which will be surrounded by a paved walkway along with landscaping.

The goal is to dedicate the memorial on this year's Veterans Day, which is Nov. 11.

"Hopefully, it's the first of a number of public art displays on the campus," Dietsch added.


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Source: Springfield News-Sun (Ohio)

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