Principal Shannon Auten decided to add a new monument to the face of the school for the 2019 school year to honor West Henderson alumni that have served and fallen in war. The project has been in motion for years but has been finished and had one name on it as of Thursday, May 9.
The newest addition to the front of the school is a masoned stand with an engraved facing adorned with police cars and firetrucks.
“The masonry part of the monument was done several years ago under our former principal, Dean Jones, and Mrs. Auten had the plaque done this year in time for the school year,” history teacher Daniel Holbert said. “We are really trying to do a better job teaching the kids about fallen heroes and what they did; I think the monument is a good start.”
The new plaque already holds its first name: Terry Lee Varnadore ll, class of 1999. Varnadore was a wrestler and an involved student in his days at West Henderson. He served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and also served time in Afghanistan.
“Terry was several years ahead of me, but I grew up wrestling with him,” Holbert said. “I went to a lot of matches where he and his brother wrestled. I hung out with his younger brother a little in college, and we all grew up together. I think that it’s important to remember those who fought, especially when it hits close to home.”
Dance teacher Elizabeth Creamer remembered spending time with Varnadore as well; he was her brother-in-law.
“My sister and Terry met each other in preschool and went through school and college together and got married right after college graduation,” Creamer said. “So I knew him for 22 years and got to really spend time with him all my life before he was killed.”
Creamer said she and her family have felt nothing but appreciation for West’s effort to remember Varnadore and others who fell fighting for their country.
“The school really does lot to remember those who went here, whether they have passed away or made great achievements in their life after West,” Creamer said. “The monument is helping keep alive Terry Lee’s memory all these years later. For me, it’s a reminder of why I’m here and why I’m doing what I’m doing. In my room I have a board of why I dance and Terry Lee is on it. Each semester I tell my students about Terry and my journey through dance for him.”
Teachers are also doing their part to expose all students to the monument as well as other monuments around the school, not only for their own lessons inside the classroom but to impact the students here at West.
“I took my students out to show them the monument we have on campus of Jennifer Gore Lewis for my 9/11 lesson that I do in class,” Holbert said. “Most kids initially would walk right past or are glued to their phone so they don’t notice. I’m making an effort to change this.”
Creamer said she appreciates the fact that there is a monument at all and even if students don’t take notice each time they walk past those fallen are being remembered.
“I’m just thankful the school is bringing it up,” Creamer said. “I know Terry is probably shaking his head because he was just a humble, outstanding man but I also think he would see how is could and is impacting others too.”
By: Kinsley Morgan, A&E Editor