By Kaitlin Fleming
The year of 2013 was a very busy one for Tammy Bean’s senior government class. What started as a challenge quickly became an obsession to 20 Westbrook Christian School seniors. Bean challenged her students to come up with a project that would make an impact in the community. Those students excelled all of her expectations.
The project was not simple. They decided they wanted to honor veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. With the help of Senator Phil Williams they drafted a plan to rename a large stretch of U.S. Highway 411, from the Gadsden Mall to the end of Ashville City limits, in honor of those veterans.
The students planned and drafted resolutions for city and county councils. They communicated with ALDOT officials, state officials and Gov. Robert Bentley. The overall cost for this project was $1,700, which was covered by donations from generous local businesses, councilmembers and parents.
May 2014 came and the students were preparing for graduation and still planning this project. The students were not even close to being finished with it. They continued working throughout the summer and did not stop working until the project was finally completed in 2015. The students were thrilled that the project was completed and they could finally honor the veterans.
“This experience has taught me that no matter what your age or status, even if you are a teenager or high school student, you can do something,” said Hayden Clay, student project manager. “We wanted to do something to show the veterans that we care. We wanted the veterans to know that we remember them and what they sacrificed for this country.”
The final part of the project was to host a ribbon cutting ceremony. On May 22, many veterans and their family, as well as many councilmembers, attended the ceremony at Rainbow City Hall. Bean talked about the students and how proud she was of them. Clay then described where he was on 9/11. He talked about how the class was so excited to honor the veterans of this generation’s war. An emotional Senator Williams spoke briefly about the dedication.
After the ceremony one of the students spoke about the project. “We had an awesome opportunity to honor the veterans,” said Collin Edwards. “We had to take that chance.”