OMS ‘Freedom Circle’ to honor veterans, showcase U.S. flag
by CHRISTY ARMSTRONG  Banner Staff Writer
Aug 17, 2014 | 814 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print

PROGRESS continues on the “Freedom Circle” courtyard at Ocoee Middle School. The project, which allowed the school to move its flagpole, will include bricks engraved with the names of local veterans and active duty military personnel.  Banner photo, CHRISTY ARMSTRONG
PROGRESS continues on the “Freedom Circle” courtyard at Ocoee Middle School. The project, which allowed the school to move its flagpole, will include bricks engraved with the names of local veterans and active duty military personnel. Banner photo, CHRISTY ARMSTRONG
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Progress has been made on a Ocoee Middle School project that started as a way to beautify the campus and became a way to honor the community’s veterans.

Over the summer, workers began the construction of a new courtyard paved with bricks engraved with the names of local veterans and active duty military personnel.

Last fall, the “Freedom Circle” project began as part of an effort to put the school’s American flag in a place of greater prominence.

Renovations in 2001 had left the flagpole against the side of the building and away from the main entrance. Student volunteers who raised and lowered the flag had to walk through a drainage ditch between a sidewalk and the building to get to the pole. A task Principal Ron Spangler said was undesirable on rainy days.

Spangler came up with an idea that would allow the school to move the flagpole as well as honor veterans.

Parents, teachers and members of the community were invited to purchase bricks to be placed in a new courtyard dubbed “Freedom Circle.” 

Each brick purchased could be engraved with the name of a friend or loved one who had served in the military, with enough room for the person’s name, military branch and title.

“The project got its origin from us moving the flagpole,” Spangler said. “But it’s turned into more.” 

So far, 150 bricks have been purchased.

Spangler said he was happy to find the project embraced by people in the community.

The bricks are being placed in the new courtyard area located in the visitors parking lot directly across from the school’s main entrance.

The flagpole is surrounded by the beginnings of a retaining wall and an area to be paved with more bricks.

The success of the project so far has prompted him to set an additional goal for the number of bricks engraved. Since more than 150 bricks are needed to finish the project, the goal is to have 100 additional bricks made with the names of those who have served in the military.

Bricks will continue to be sold through the end of October.

In November, the school plans to dedicate the courtyard with a ceremony and ribbon cutting in conjunction with a Veterans Day celebration.

Spangler described the project as a “win-win,” because it is expected to both beautify the campus and draw attention to the contributions of those who have served their country in the military.

“That is something we want the students to know about — how people have served,” Spangler said.

Anyone can purchase a brick for $40. Each brick can be engraved with the name of a friend or loved one who has served in the military. Spangler said the money raised will go toward the cost of the engraving and completing the project.

If for some reason there are extra funds that result from the donations, the money will be budgeted for use in future on-campus projects.

One project the school is looking into this fall is installing awnings near doors where students wait to be picked up after school each day. Spangler said this is needed to keep students dry on rainy days.

The form to be filled out to purchase a brick can be found by visiting http://ocoeemiddle.tn. ­bcm.schoolinsites.com and clicking on the “Forms” link on the left side of the page.

For more information, call the school at 423-476-0630.