Veterans benefit from DHS Future Problem Solvers’ project | News
DANVILLE — The fruits of Danville High School Future Problem Solvers members’ labor could be seen Friday at their Never 4-Get Honor Garden at the Cannon Place housing complex for homeless veterans.
The team’s second garden will take shape this weekend.
At 1 p.m. Sunday, the group will have a Project Valued Vets Community Planting Day for the Never 4-Get Honor Garden at the American Legion Post 210 at 201 Prospect Place in Danville.
The 11 student members encourage the public to help them plant flower beds, install benches and build the fire pit.
The gardens are going to be really nice, said FPS member Cecilia Brown. The one at the legion will be even bigger, she said.
Team members Cici Brown and Isaiah Easton spoke at a recent Danville D118 School Board meeting saying the Future Problem Solvers appreciate all the donated material and labor and community help.
On Friday, state Sen. Scott Bennett and state Rep. Mike Marron recognized the FPS at Cannon Place at the Veterans Affairs Illiana Health Care System in Danville as the group brought a shed, placed mulch and planted flowers for the garden.
The FPS received their state tournament trophy and state certificates for their achievements from Bennett and Marron.
Bennett said this school year’s veterans project expanded into several other projects, including re-doing Cannon Place’s computer and fitness rooms by putting up inspirational quotes and making them more inviting; in addition to creating a coffee bar in Cannon Place’s community room; and the group stocked Cannon Place’s food pantry and essential items closet.
“They’ve blown me away with what they’ve accomplished since November,” said Lori Woods, DHS history teacher who is the FPS sponsor.
She said she’s really proud of them. Everything is the students’ creation and invention.
“Everything they’ve done here is designed to push the idea of getting the veterans reconnecting outside of their apartments, and joining together, having resources in their computer room, having a more engaging fitness room, and just having some gardens that you want to sit out in and be involved in,” Woods said.
Marron presented the 2022 Illinois State Champion High School Future Problem Solvers trophy to the group. He said he’s always impressed by the inspirational projects the group comes up with year after year.
“This one is especially amazing,” he said. He said he and Bennett were at Cannon Place in December and the rooms the FPS worked on looked completely different, now having inspirational quotes, art and changes.
“Danville is always recognized as one of the most veteran-friendly communities in the entire nation, and it’s because of projects like this. So, it’s really, really heartwarming to see the next generation of leaders taking on that role in our community,” Marron said.
Bennett too said it’s been amazing to see FPS projects year after year, such as addressing water safety, road safety, abandoned pets and this year’s special veterans’ projects.
The community has worked together to help with benches, umbrellas and other aspects of the projects.
“There’s so many ways we want to honor the veterans in our community,” Bennett said.
He wanted to take time to say thank you to the FPS, and even if the students don’t realize it, they are examples to other students and are being looked up to.
“Everybody’s under a ton of pressure, right, in ways we couldn’t even imagined when we were in school, with social media and the pandemic and everything else. But you’re able to block a lot of that out and help your community and help each other, and you make us very proud representing Danville,” he said.
Bennett said they look forward to seeing the team’s future success.
Veteran Clyde Smith, who lives in Cannon Place, said of the shed and garden,”I love it.” He said he loves to have the high school students at the homeless veteran housing complex.
Clyde is known for “Clyde’s Cabins.” He passed the time creating cabins with popsicle sticks during COVID-19. He donated one to the FPS which raised money.
The shed the FPS brought to Cannon Place on Friday was in honor of Clyde, team members said.
FPS started their veteran-focused projects for the school year in November.
Cici said they wanted to look at the COVID-19 impact on the community, especially veterans, and some who couldn’t see family members or visitors.
They decided to create memorial gardens at the American Legion and Cannon Place, the Mercy Housing center at the VA, she said.
“We want to make a difference,” Cici said.
They’ve had fundraisers, such as glow bingo events, to raise money.
They also have been raising money for their trip to the international Future Problem Solvers competition, after winning the state competition.
The international competition is June 6-13 at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, Mass. Cici said it’s about an 18-hour drive.
“We’re excited for it,” she said.
This will be about 12 DHS FPS teams who have gone to the international competition through the years.
Isaiah said the flower garden at the American Legion will have a burn pit for flag retirements. The American Legion had an undefined spot next to the parking lot to retire flags in a burn pile, he said. The new fire pit will make it look more ceremonial, he added.
“It’s going to look really cool,” Isaiah said.
The garden will give the legion an outside social spot too, Woods said, adding that it will be a complete transformation.