The staff and faculty at Oakcrest High School take pride in the school's support of the U.S. military. The curriculum boasts a teacher-designed military history class, and the school has its own military museum. They often bring in veterans to talk to students or take field trips to places like Arlington National Cemetery, and they're always willing to give to military causes.
In their latest effort to give back, the Oakcrest staff and faculty held a denim day Sept. 28, donating $5 to the Wounded Warriors Project, a nonprofit organization that serves veteran's interests, for the right to wear jeans to work.
Math teacher Mark Prince, who organized the effort, said the denim day was an important effort by the school.
"Guys who have gone overseas and given a part of themselves, whether mentally or physically, for a cause, it's not fair to them to come home and not feel respected and welcomed by Americans," Prince said. "I think it's very important that people are on board with this."
The benefit raised $425 for the Wounded Warriors project.
Not only does Oakcrest actively support the military through fundraisers, but it boasts 12 employees who have served in the military. Prince, who is in the Marine Corps, is one of two members who currently serve, along with math and science supervisor Jason Brown.
Three more teachers, four members of the maintenance team, two security officers and school greeter Chereyse Hepburn have served.
In organizing the fundraiser, Prince is carrying on a proud tradition at Oakcrest of giving to military causes. History teacher Doug Cervi, also a veteran, organizes a denim day each year in support of the New Jersey Veterans Memorial Home in Vineland, and others have organized supply collections for servicemen and women overseas.
In addition to its staff and faculty members who have served, several recent graduates of Oakcrest have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, making the project a personal one.
"We have students who have gone and served and come back, and they're in their mid- to late-20s now," history teacher and Marine veteran Beau Glenn said. "We have kids in the school whose families are in their military, whose parents have been wounded, so it's a very personal thing here."
Randy Schiffelbein, Oakcrest facilities manager and a 23-year veteran of the Coast Guard, said he was honored by the school's support of its veterans, saying it should serve as an example to others.
"I'm very proud of what the school is doing," Schiffelbein said. "I'm very happy they're doing it. I just wish more people could be supportive."
Jeffrey James, head custodian at Oakcrest and also a 23-year Coast Guard veteran echoed his co-workers' sentiments, saying the fundraiser was a touching gesture.
"It brings back memories," James said. "It makes me proud. It's just a good feeling. That's the best way I can put it without getting emotional. It's a good feeling."
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