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CONTEST: Students honor veterans with color, paint, paste

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Holy Cross Academy second grader Sally Beringer, 8, works on a pop-up Valentine's Day card for a military veteran at the school on Stafford Lakes Parkway in Stafford County on Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014. Beringer is one of three finalists in the national Operation Caring Classroom Coloring Contest who attend Holy Cross Academy.

Holy Cross Academy second grader Sally Beringer, 8, works on a pop-up Valentine’s Day card for a military veteran at the school on Stafford Lakes Parkway in Stafford County on Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014. Beringer is one of three finalists in the national Operation Caring Classroom Coloring Contest who attend Holy Cross Academy. (Peter Cihelka / The Free Lance-Star)

The students at Holy Cross Academy in Stafford County don’t just use art to express themselves. They color, paint and paste to honor the armed forces.

This month, students will send out more than 500 Valentine’s Day greetings to veterans, but the cards aren’t typical valentines.

The fifth-grade class made hearts out of duct tape for the veterans receiving them.

And three Holy Cross students are finalists in the 8th annual Operation Caring Classroom coloring contest, which honors the military.

Second-grader Sally Beringer and first-graders Alex Ortiz and Katie Gibbs each had their artwork selected for the contest, part of the OCC program by the Armed Forces Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides financial assistance to military families in need.

Holy Cross Academy first grader Alex Ortiz Rosado (left), 7,  and his classmate Kaitlyn Halepaska, 7, make Valentine's Day cards for military veterans at the school on Stafford Lakes Parkway in Stafford County on Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014. Rosado is one of three finalists in the national Operation Caring Classroom Coloring Contest who attend Holy Cross Academy.

Holy Cross Academy first grader Alex Ortiz Rosado (left), 7, and his classmate Kaitlyn Halepaska, 7, make Valentine’s Day cards for military veterans at the school on Stafford Lakes Parkway in Stafford County on Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014. Rosado is one of three finalists in the national Operation Caring Classroom Coloring Contest who attend Holy Cross Academy.

The program is designed to educate elementary school children about the U.S. Armed Forces. It started on Veteran’s Day in the fall.

Nearly 100 schools, including Holy Cross, used OCC in 2013, but only five students from those schools made it to the finals.

Students from Aurora Elementary in West Fargo, N.D., and Edgar Park Elementary in El Paso, Texas, also have finalists in the contest.

Holy Cross teacher Eileen Lanzerone, who formerly served in the Army Corps of Engineers, brought the program to the school off U.S. 17.

Sally said her artwork, with alternating letters in red and blue, and patterned in stars, on the coloring sheet was inspired by the soldiers her class learned about on Veterans Day.

Alex turned the letters spelling “Help Save Our Troops” on the sheet into individual soldiers. Each letter has its own Army helmet.

“They protect our country and they protect us and they’re cool,” Alex said.

Katie said she just thought of the American flag when decorating her coloring sheet. Each letter is a flag.

Voting for the winner of the contest is open through February on the Armed Forces Foundation’s Facebook page. The picture with the most likes will be the winner.

So far, Alex is the front-runner with more than 180 likes.

First prize is a bike and a T–shirt with the winning artwork on it.

“I’m really excited,” Sally said about the contest. “It would be really cool to win.”

While Sally and Katie are excited about the possibility of getting the bike, Alex wants the shirt.

“It will have my picture on it!” he said. “My family are telling people to vote.”

Sally and Katie’s families have similar strategies to win.

The three finalists said they’ll employ the same inspiration from the coloring sheets in decorating their valentines for veterans.

Alex said he will definitely be drawing Army helmets on his.

Rebecca Darling, guidance counselor at Holy Cross, helped teach the OCC program and is collecting the valentines to send off.

“We have so many military families at this school,” Darling said.

Sally said one of her great-grandfathers was in the Army.

Katie had a grandfather who served, as well.

And Alex’s godfather, grandfather and father served in the Army.

“I’ve heard about it,” he said. “And my dad showed me his suit.”

Lindley Estes: 540/735-1976

lestes@freelancestar.com

WANT TO VOTE?

Vote for the artwork of Alex, Sally or Katie online on Facebook at: goo.gl/MPcY4e before Feb. 28 and “like” the one of your choice to help a student at Holy Cross take home first place.

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Permalink: http://news.fredericksburg.com/newsdesk/2014/02/06/contest-students-honor-veterans-with-color-paint-paste/