Loading
Search
NEWS STORIES

Kids spend hours of free time for veterans as part of Freedom Pen Project Submitted: 03/20/2017
Natalie Cardona
Natalie Cardona
Reporter/Anchor
ncardona@wjfw.com

Kids spend hours of free time for veterans as part of Freedom Pen Project
MERRILL - Kids spend hours of their free time every week handcrafting wooden pens at Prairie River Middle School in Merrill. 

They chop, whittle, and sand wooden pens for veterans. 

"They don't know these veterans. They don't know what war they were in or what they did, but they do understand what they did created freedom for us," said manufacturing and construction teacher Pete McConnell.


This project isn't for a class. The eighth-graders do it for the Freedom Pen Project. 

McConnell got the idea from a friend who works with the Badger Honor Flight near Madison.

"I asked him, 'Can I steal your idea?' And he said, 'I'd love for you to do that,'" said McConnell. 

Since the project started in January, the kids have made more than 75 pens. 

Those pens will be given to veterans taking the Never Forgotten Honor Flight in May. 

"They have no fear," McConnell said of the students. "They trust me, they trust the process. They're not afraid of the machine. At first they might be."

McConnell had to do a lot of research on that process in his free time so the kids could take away even more woodworking knowledge. 

"I've heard of wood pens and how they made them, but I have never seen it done, so I wondered if I could do that," said eighth-grader Izayah King. 
  
King has been cranking out pens for the last couple of months. He even got the chance to honor his grandfather, who fought in the Navy. 

"When I gave it to him he just loved it. It just made his day. It made me so happy and made me love what I do here," said King. 

Purpleheart, walnut, padauk: each student can rattle of the type of wood they use for the pens, and whether the detail on the pen is gunmetal or gold. 

"A veteran that fought for my country is going to get something that I made for him. It's a way to show my gratitude," said Tavius Morris. 

Kennedy Berndt feels that way too. She decided to do the Freedom Pen workshops in her free time, even though her friends didn't want to. 

"They didn't want to get lacquer on their hands or anything like that," said Berndt. 

It doesn't bother her though. 

The group plans to keep cranking out pens until they meet their goal of 100 pens. 

Then those pens will be boxed up and given to the veterans before the Honor Flight takes off May 22. 

McConnell plans to keep the project up for future honor flights. 

"It's why I teach," said McConnell. "Children always make it better." 







Related Weblinks:
Contact Pete McConnell:

Text Size: + Increase | Decrease -
| Print Story | Email Story
Sponsored in part by HodagSports.com





 IN OTHER NEWS

Play Video

ANTIGO - When police showed up to a car crash near Antigo this week, the driver seemed discombobulated and out of sorts.  Sunday night, Pao Vang, 33, told officers he had just flown in from vacation with someone else, even though he was the only one in the car.  But it's what officers did find in that car soon after that has Vang in trouble.

Police towed the car from an intersection near the Langlade County Airport (where Vang said he just came from) to a nearby gas station.  There, officers noticed bags full of what appeared to be marijuana sticking out of duffel bags in plain sight.  They got a search warrant and found 133 pounds of high-grade marijuana.

+ Read More

WOODRUFF - On Friday a pilot's world turned upside down, literally. 

A float plane flipped and landed upside down on Lake Tomahawk Friday morning. The rollover happened near the Indian Shores Campground in Wooduff.

+ Read More

Play Video

RHINELANDER - You can find a lot of stressed out resort owners headed into Memorial Day weekend.  A Rhinelander-area resort manager feels a little better about that stress now that his business won big.

Brekke's Fireside Resort won the Wisconsin Lodging Directory's 2018 cover photo contest.  The resort beat out 10 other finalists after finishing second in the contest last year.  Resort manager Dan Brekke took the winning photo last fall and found out about the win Friday morning.

+ Read More

RHINELANDER - Five years ago Army veteran Beth Bowman was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and lost her ability to walk on her own. 

It was crushing news to the once active 43- year- old veteran.

But this week she tried out a new device at the Rhinelander Veterans Affairs Clinic that gives her a new outlook on life. 
 
"She has very limited or no use of some leg muscles," said Rhinelander V.A. Physical Therapist Dr. Wesley Spurgeon. 

The disease broke down the ability for her brain to talk to the nerves in her legs.

 She went from a cane to crutches to a wheelchair. 

"It was kind of crushing, I was using a cane within a year of my diagnosis," said Bowman. 

Last month Spurgeon offered some hope to Bowman. 

He learned about a nerve stimulator at a class.

"We place electrodes over the top of the muscle we want to stimulate," said Spurgeon.

+ Read More

BOWLER - North Star Mohican Casino will celebrate 25 years in gaming during the month of May and throughout 2017. On  Thursday, May 25, the "Midwest's Friendliest Casino" offered a free barbecue and ceremonial cake-cutting to mark the occasion. Guests enjoyed entertainment, games, and prizes all afternoon, including musical performances by Clint Miller and Kenny James Duo.

+ Read More
What We're Working OnSubmitted: 05/26/2017

- Tonight on Newswatch 12:

Well tell you about a woman who was rescued after her plane landed in Lake Tomahawk and turned over.

We'll update you on the charges faced by the owner of It Matters to One Animal Rescue in Oneida County. 39 animals from the center were seized in early February following complaints of mistreatment.

And we'll show you a new device at the Rhinelander VA Clinic designed to help people who lost their ability to walk, and we talk to an Army veteran who is the first person at the clinic to try the equipment.

We'll bring you the details on these stories and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

+ Read More

WHEATON, IL - A suburban Chicago judge has ordered a mental fitness evaluation for a Wisconsin man charged with shooting and seriously injuring an Amtrak conductor.

The (Arlington Heights) Daily Herald reports 79-year-old Edward Klein's public defender told the DuPage County judge Thursday that she has "bona fide doubt" of the West Allis man's mental fitness.

+ Read More
+ More General News
Search: 





Click Here