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Students Donate $20,000 to Help Build Pentagon Memorial

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 27, 2007 – About 120 fourth- and fifth-grade students and their chaperones representing J.W. Alvey Elementary School in Haymarket, Va., presented a check for $20,000 to the Pentagon Memorial Fund today during a ceremony at the Pentagon.

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Jim Laychak (right), the president and chairman of the Pentagon Memorial Fund’s board of directors, helps hold an over-sized donation check presented to him by Candace Rotruck (seated), the principal at J.W. Alvey Elementary School, April 27, at the Pentagon. As this year’s service project, the school’s students held a walk-a-thon that raised $20,000 for the Pentagon Memorial Fund. Photo by Samantha L. Quigley

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

The donation is a result of the school’s third annual service project, a walk-a-thon focusing on service, Candace Rotruck, the school’s principal, said. The past two years, beneficiaries of the fundraiser were tsunami victims in Southeast Asia and victims of Hurricane Katrina.

“We wanted to continue (the fundraisers), so this year we have dedicated our fundraiser to the Pentagon Memorial Fund, and our focus has been on service,” Rotruck said, adding that the notion includes service to the school, service to the community and service to the country.

That focus led to the motto for this year’s fundraiser: “Remember yesterday, Build tomorrow.”

“So to help remember yesterday and build tomorrow, and as part of our service to our community and our country, we are here to present you with a check for $20,000,” she said as she handed the donation to Jim Laychak, president and chairman of the Pentagon Memorial Fund’s board of directors.

Laychack lost his younger brother in the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the Pentagon, and he said he became involved with the project because he wants to make sure the world remembers and honors those who lost their lives here.

“Thank you so very much,” Laychak said. “This is a tremendous effort. It’s days like today that I know that we’re going to (meet the fundraising goal), because school kids throughout the country … are contributing to this, and this is just a great message for other schools.”

He went on to praise the students as shining examples of how positive things can spring forth from something as tragic as the Sept. 11 attacks.

“It makes you realize how much goodness there is out there,” Laychak said. “These kids are a part of history. They’ll always be able to go there and talk about what they did to help make this (memorial) a reality.”

Chris Dalton, a teacher who served as co-chair of the fundraiser’s planning committee, said the students really took the helm after deciding to recognize the fifth anniversary of Sept. 11 with the walk-a-thon.

“It was the kids’ idea, and the kids provided a lot of service,” he said, adding that they made posters and collected all the pledges. “We were there to kind of group them together and make sure that they were on the right track.”

Gabi Debardi, a fifth-grader, said the school met its goal of service to school, community and country.

“We have achieved our goal,” Debardi said. “I think this is very important, because later in life we’ll remember this and we’ll help build the Pentagon Memorial.”

Debardi was part of the 120-member J.W. Alvey Singing Sunrays student choir that performed three patriotic songs during the ceremony. She said she personally walked 15 laps around the school, which she emphatically described as a big building.

Editor's Note: To find out about more individuals, groups and organizations that are helping support the troops, visit www.AmericaSupportsYou.mil. America Supports You directly connects military members to the support of the America people and offers a tool to the general public in their quest to find meaningful ways to support the military community.

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Related Sites:
Pentagon Memorial Fund

Click photo for screen-resolution imageAbout 120 members of the J.W. Alvey Elementary School’s Singing Sunrays choir perform patriotic songs as part of a check-passing ceremony April 27 at the Pentagon. The Haymarket, Va., school raised $20,000 for the Pentagon Memorial Fund as its annual service project. Photo by Samantha L. Quigley  
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