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"Salute a Soldier" project gives voice to service

photo of students with artAt right, student-artists Olivia Southworth, Jake Tenner, Adriana Olcott, and Angie Nardin display their works in honor of veterans. Below right is Luke Kelly, Scarlett De Witt, and Jaquelin Mignot.

November 11, 2015 — One served as a technician in Pearl Harbor during the attack. One served at Ground Zero and in Iraq. One circumnavigated the globe as a radar operator during the Korean War. And all were honored by GFHSphoto of students and project student-artists through pieces that spoke to the service and sacrifice of each.

The “Salute a Soldier” project was part of the Glen Falls Symphony’s Brothers in Art concert honoring veterans near and far.

“I felt it was a great way to inspire my seniors to get involved with the community and make art for something bigger than themselves,” said art teacher Sue Botch. “They will be graduating and art-making will no longer be an assignment, but a way to communicate their voices.” And in this project, the story each veteran told was transformed into sculpture, drawings, and much more.

Army Sergeant Gina Olcott served in Iraq for a year, following a deployment to Ground Zero in September, 2001—as then-sixth-grader Adirana sacrificed on the home front while her mom served. “That was the day she was being deployed to Iraq,” Adirana—now a GFHS senior—said, holding a framed photo of herself with her mom next to the ceramic box she created, featuring her mom’s dog tag replicated on the lid.

Dog tags—an imprint and a raised replication—were also prominent in Luke Kelly’s ceramic vase in tribute to his grandfather, Reserve Private Bob Getchell.

“My grandparents met on the Queen Mary, going over to the European front in World War II,” said Olivia Southworth. “She was an Army nurse and he was a doctor. They were both being deployed and heading to Normandy.” Her other grandfather, serving in the Navy, was stationed on San Salvador Island, assisting with taken-down Russian submarines. Her art incorporated four composites in a red, white and blue theme.

Jaquelin Mignot drew a portrait of her 10-year-old cousin saluting while wearing his father’s dog tag around his neck. Jake Tenner made a composite honoring his grandfather, who survived the Pear Harbor attack while in the Schofield Barracks. Angie Nardin drew a portrait of Army Captain Lisa Dean, herself a Glens Falls graduate, who served two deployments within Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Scarlett De Witt’s tribute to her grandfather, a Korean War radar operator, involved three canvases with black acrylic stencil over maps of New York harbor, Scotland, and Japan. “He was on the U.S.S. Sumner 692 – that’s his ship,” Scarlett said. “He circumnavigated the globe. He went into the Arctic Circle, crossed the equator, he went everywhere. He was stationed in 32 different docks, and 15 of them were in Japan.” His job was to find planes that went down in the water, as part of rescue and recovery operations. “He always put his heart into trying to find them, because he felt like it was someone in his family.”

The entire collection is on display through November in the auditorium foyer gallery at Glens Falls High School.