Elementary school kids honoring the fallen.

Sharon Ricklic's 5th grade class in New Philadelphia, Ohio has something very special planned.


Small Town Ohio School on the Verge of Being

Closed will Honor Local Soldier Killed in Iraq

Fifth Grade Class of Ohio's Preserve America History Teacher of the Year to Present Soldier's Family with HeroBracelets as Part of Veterans' Day Ceremonies

(New Philadelphia, Ohio) - In a special Veterans' Day Ceremony on Nov. 9 in his hometown, a group of fifth graders at York Elementary School will be wearing HeroBracelets bearing the name of Cpl. Keith Nepsa. The New Philadelphia soldier was killed in early June by an improvised explosive device while on duty in Iraq. Nepsa's mother, who will attend the event with several of the soldier's friends and family, will also be given special sterling silver bracelets bearing her son's name.

"I wore a POW/MIA bracelet during the Vietnam War," said Sharon Ricklic, teacher of the York fifth graders. "When I heard about the HeroBracelets, I thought this would be a good way to honor our local soldier so we added the presentation to our annual Veterans' Day ceremony in our class."

Ricklic, who was named Ohio's Preserve America History Teacher of the Year last year for designing the educational Veterans' Day proceedings for her students, learned of HeroBracelets on the internet. Created by Austin, Texas advertising executive Chris Greta, the bracelets are designed to honor U.S. servicemen and women who are deployed, injured, or killed in the Iraq War.

"I wish we didn't need to create HeroBracelets," Greta said. "But even if you don't agree with the war, you certainly want to remember the people who represent us with courage and honor. That's why we started this project."

Greta gives a portion of the purchase price of each bracelet to the Center for the Intrepid Foundation and the Fallen Heroes Fund in New York and San Antonio. The money goes to assist families adjusting to the loss of a loved one in the war or to help pay for rehabilitation. More than 60,000 of the bracelets have been sold and the Web site herobracelets.org <http://herobracelets.org/> has become a community for friends and families of the fallen and those who are still serving.

"My thirty students do a wonderful presentation," Ricklic added. "They sing "˜American Tears' and explain the history of the USO, describe the meaning of the thirteen folds of the flag, as well relating the importance of this day."

The three girls in Riclic's class will wear period costumers from the 1940s and perform "The Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B."

"But this year will be special because each of the kids will go home wearing a bracelet honoring Cpl. Keith Nepsa, as will his mother," Ricklic said. "Everyone in his hometown wants his family to know Keith will be remembered."

A few days before the Veterans' Day ceremony is scheduled, local voters go to the polls to decide the fate of a levy that would provide funding to keep open York Elementary. If the referendum fails, the rural school will not be opened for classes next ye