Honoring alumni service

Corunna Public Schools Superintendent John Fattal, left, and Athletic Director Jason Beldyga are spearheading the creation of a new veterans memorial wall inside Corunna High School.

CORUNNA — A veterans “wall of honor” is being created inside Corunna High School to honor former Corunna students who have served their country, and the district is seeking residents’ help with the project.

Inspired by a similar wall at Grand Rapids Forest Hills High School, Corunna officials and students are planning a “Corunna Cavaliers Veterans Wall of Honor” for a prominent space inside the newly repainted and decorated lobby area at CHS.

“We’ve had a long list of veterans from Corunna, and we thought this would be a great way to pay tribute to them and their sacrifices for our country,” Corunna Superintendent John Fattal said Thursday.

But the district needs residents’ assistance in compiling the names, branches of military service and graduation dates of the community’s veterans.

Any man or woman who has attended Corunna schools and served in the military — from the present back to CHS’s first graduating class in 1870 — is eligible to be included on the wall.

The roughly 20-by-9-foot wall will be headed by the words “Corunna Cavaliers Veterans Wall of Honor,” with emblems signifying each of the five branches of the military.

Below each emblem will be glass cases containing oversize “dog tags” etched with the names and other information about each veteran. Tags for those who were killed in action will be distinguished in some way, officials said.

“The wall of honor is going to be in a prominent position,” said Corunna Athletic Director Jason Beldyga, who with Fattal is spearheading the wall project. “There won’t be a kid that goes through the halls who won’t see it.”

The effort is collaborative, with students from the high school’s Algebra I Materials Products Energy Design (AMPED) program creating the dog tags and an area man donating the emblems.

In addition, Beldyga has reached out to local veterans groups, including the Corunna VFW Post 4005, AmVets and the American Legion for help in compiling veterans’ names. Local historians will be contacted as well.

“We hope people get a better appreciation of the history of our school,” Beldyga said.

He said organizers hope to have the wall of honor in place by graduation day, May 16, and plan to conduct a ceremony in front of the wall for Veterans Day in the fall.

Officials are asking residents who know someone who has served in the military to fill out a form available on the district’s website, corunna.k12.mi.us. Monetary donations for the project will be accepted as well, Fattal said.

No one can say exactly how many veterans hail from Corunna schools — hundreds, no doubt, and possibly thousands. Just about everyone in the area likely knows someone who has served. Fattal’s own father, Theodore “Bud” Fattal, CHS class of 1948, served during the Korean War.

Respect for veterans is generally a universal feeling, not linked to any political party, they said.

“People may be surprised by how much military service connects us,” Fattal said. “We’re just looking to bring people together, not tear them apart.”

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