Calera Middle School launches fundraiser for Honor Flight

On Halloween afternoon, Calera Middle School teachers will take to the gridiron for a good cause.

At 2 p.m., female teachers will face each other in the school’s version of the Iron Bowl while male teachers cheer from the sidelines — with skirts and pompoms — as part of the school’s fundraising campaign for Honor Flight. Admission is $2 per student.

Honor Flight is a non-profit program that honors World War II veterans by flying them free of charge to Washington, D.C., to visit their memorials. Principal Brent Copes got the idea for the fundraiser while reading a magazine article about Honor Flight over the summer.

“It really struck a chord in my heart to think about how quickly we’re losing our World War II veterans,” Copes said. “I approached my teachers about it in August, and several of our teachers have parents that are World War II veterans.”

According to the Honor Flight Birmingham Web site, World War II veterans are dying at a rate of 1,200 per day. Copes said the fundraiser is also an effort to recognize Calera’s veterans.

To kickoff the campaign, veteran Wilburn O. Thomas, who is on a waiting list for Honor Flight, spoke to the student body. Copes said the students were captivated by Thomas’ story.

“(The students) walked in and they saw Mr. Thomas, and one of the students said, ‘I know that guy. I go to church with him,'” Copes said. “We are surrounded by World War II veterans, we sit in the same pew with veterans, but we don’t know they are veterans.”

Copes continued, “For the students it seems so long ago and ancient history, but there are people in the community who experienced it.”

The school has raised $500 for Honor Flight so far. Copes expects to raise $800 during the game, which will be held at the school’s P.E. practice area.

Copes said students have written letters and engaged in individual activities to publicize the campaign.

“One of our students set up a lemonade stand to raise money,” Copes said. “They are really taking it to heart.”

The school will present their donation to Honor Flight during a Veterans Day assembly Nov. 7.

Copes said donations may be mailed to the school at 8454 U.S. 31, Calera, AL, 35040 (Attention: Honor Flight).