Communities dedicates courtyard to veterans

Autymn Pietz and Alexis Holovack

On Thursday, May 13, Communities at Oshkosh North held a ceremony for the honorary ribbon cutting of the new courtyard honoring veterans during Armed Forces Week. 

Numerous members of the armed forces joined school officials such as Jacquelyn Kiffmeyer and co-founders of the Communities program, Brad Weber and Rick Leib, in dedicating the courtyard. 

Heidi Colburn, senior at Communities student at ONHS and speaker at the memorial says, “The memorial turned out really well. I respect veterans so I felt very honored to get to go up there and say their names. It was amazing and really cool to see.”

Former Oshkosh North student and armed forces veteran Brandon Starks gave a keynote address. Starks graduated in 2015 from the Communities program.

“I thought the memorial was amazing, it really is a great opportunity for these veterans to get recognized. When you join the military you don’t join it to get recognized, but when you guys set this up for them to get recognized it’s amazing. There are so many sacrifices made and people lost along the way so it’s great to honor them,” Starks says. 

The work of creating the courtyard fell on Zillges Materials, a local landscaping company. Beau Hodgen, the father of former Oshkosh North student Isabella Hodgen, attended the event to represent the company.

“I wouldn’t have taken part in this if it weren’t for my daughter. Her being in communities put her on a good path, and it’s incredible to see the growth from people in communities,” Beau says

His daughter continued the compliments.

“I am very proud of [my father]. I’m a Communities alumni myself, and I think it’s amazing to see something so positive come out of such a negative time,” Isabella says.

The project began when Communities students learned about conflicts of war in the 20th and 21st centuries. The students wanted a way to remember and honor the past and present alum of North High school who went into the military and became veterans from this project. 

A groundbreaking ceremony was held back in the fall of 2020. With 58 bricks. Now, the courtyard holds 106 bricks.