Symmes Valley school art show honors local veterans

Published 11:59 am Tuesday, June 11, 2024

By Terry L. Hapney, Jr.
The Ironton Tribune

Honoring U.S. veterans through art was the focus of a recent student art show held in the lobby of the Lawrence County Courthouse.
Students and faculty from Symmes Valley Local School District created the art pieces—the show billed as “Tribute to America.”
Jonda Carpenter, art teacher at Symmes Valley, said there is a different theme each year.
“We’ve done a variety of pieces—from watercolor to graphite,” she said. “We did a sculpture. Some of these will remain on display at the Courthouse.”
The sculpture—“Freedom Endures”—was created by Symmes Valley student Helena Kollmer. A commemoration reads:
“Lawrence County remembers our brave servicemen who gave their lives protecting our freedoms in the deserts of Iraq & Afghanistan.”
The sculpture will remain on display in perpetuity at the Courthouse.
“It honors three men from Lawrence County who were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Jonda Carpenter said.
Their dog tags are hanging from the sculpture.
“You see the star of the show—the shadow in the back,” Jonda Carpenter said. “There are a lot of hidden Easter eggs in that sculpture like the oath to the Constitution—different things engraved in the metal. She has worked very hard on that.”
Students also created portraits for the “Veteran of the Year Honor Wall,” which will stay on display at the Lawrence County Courthouse.
“We’ve had five in Lawrence County so far,” Jonda Carpenter said. “It started in 2019. We’ll be doing their portrait every year when they are announced in November.”
Tim Carpenter, director of Lawrence County Veterans Services, said his organization coordinates the “Veteran of the Year” program.
“We take nominations into September,” he said. “Then we select the Veteran of the Year. We have a ceremony in November honoring the person selected. Then they make the wall.”
The ceremony is at Ohio University Southern. Lawrence Countians may submit nominees by contacting the Veterans Services office. Tim Carpenter said The Ironton Tribune will also feature the application sometime in June.
“If anyone knows a veteran they’d like to put in for this award, feel free to contact the office and we’ll get you an application or watch for it in the paper,” Tim Carpenter said.
Different students in the upper-level courses create the portraits. Jonda Carpenter as their instructor did one of them.
“We’ve had a lot of really good art shows, but I feel like this year I’m really proud of what the students have done,” Jonda Carpenter said.
One piece that holds a special place in Jonda Carpenter’s heart is one that she did as a gift to her mother. It portrays her grandfather, Gary Miller, when he was in the Marine Corps. Carol Miller, Jonda Carpenter’s grandmother, said Gary “was a wonderful person.”
“He’s home with the Lord,” she said. “He has been there 17 years.”
Gary Miller served in the Marine Corps. He and his identical twin brother joined the Marines when they were young. A parent had to sign for them.
“They both went; we’ve always been really proud of that,” Jonda Carpenter said. “Mamaw has the original. The veterans are the best among us.”
Jonda Carpenter said it was an honor “for the school to get to do this.”
“We’ve been really honored and blessed to be able to participate this year,” she said. “I’m very proud of our art students and I feel like they did a great job.”

Email newsletter signup