- Associated Press - Thursday, November 3, 2016

KOKOMO, Ind. (AP) - Students at Taylor High School took their fall break to give back to someone they respect: a Vietnam veteran.

Students in the Taylor Historical Society spent their fall break fixing up a camper for a veteran. The group attends the annual Howard County Vietnam Veterans Reunion and hosts a program each year for Veterans Day.

Don Bennett, a government and history teacher at Taylor and adviser for the historical society, said he wants to keep the veteran’s name secret until the school’s annual Veterans Day memorial on Nov. 11.

However, he mentioned that the veteran they’re donating the camper to has been very active with the Taylor students, helping to organize their trip to the reunion and speaking with them about the Vietnam War.

Jack Engelder, a senior at Taylor, said he got involved with the historical society because of his government teacher - Bennett.

“He’s a unique teacher,” Engelder said. “I’ve never had a teacher like him. And he’s so motivational.”

Bennett, who is well-liked by many of his students, is also well-liked by several of the veterans who attend the Vietnam veterans reunion in Howard County each year. Bennett brings a group of his students to the reunion each year. The students sit, listen and talk with the veterans about their experiences.

During the reunion earlier this year, several veterans thanked Bennett for bringing the students, and they thanked the students for attending.

“They’ll say ‘thank you’ to these guys,” Bennett said. “They just appreciate the fact that you guys are recognizing them. They go ‘Why are they thanking us? We’re supposed to be thanking them.’ They just appreciate the fact that these guys are recognizing them.”

The camper is a new way the students are giving back to the veterans, and they hope to be able to keep it within the veteran family. The veteran they’ll donate it to has agreed to pass it on to another veteran when he no longer needs it.

This year, the historical society teamed up with the school’s art club, and several art club students also donated their time over fall break to help fix up the trailer. They helped with the interior mostly, working on design and painting.

Maryann Dishon, the advisor for the art club, helped her students paint cabinet doors over the break. Her students could typically free-hand draw, but because they’re on a tight deadline they used stencils to draw different military branch symbols.

Madi Keene, a senior in the art club, said she’s been involved with the historical society for two years. She attended the reunion last year, and knew she wanted to continue to help give back to veterans.

“I’m very proud to use my time to come do this,” she said.

And Dishon said she was proud to see her students using their fall break to give back.

“It’s their break, so I’m very proud that they’re using the time to come do good for others,” Dishon said.

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Source: Kokomo Tribune, http://bit.ly/2ffB59b

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Information from: Kokomo Tribune, http://www.ktonline.com

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