LOVE unveiled

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By John Barnhart

    Bedford’s LOVE Letters were unveiled last week on a blustery Wednesday morning.

    The wind made a conventional unveiling impossible, but the folks involved came up with an idea that many agreed was better. A large number of students were involved between the two schools involved and the students stood in front of the letters, blocking the view until the end. Then, they all turned left (the audiences right) and walked away in a line.
    “This is a special day for Bedford,” said Nicole Johnson, the county’s director of tourism.
    Johnson complimented the talent and dedication of the students involved.
    “It demonstrates that good things can happen when we have partners,” commented County Administrator Carl Boggess.
    The partners were a number of local businesses that donated their services to help the students.
    “Our mission is to empower students for future success,” said Dr. Douglas Schuch, the county’s superintendent of schools. He said part of this involves community based projects.
    Like Boggess, Dr. Schuch noted that local business played a critical role.
    “You enrich the work we do as a school,” Dr. Schuch said of local businesses.
    A 21st Century Learning Center grant also made a difference. Dr. Kathy Dills, principal of Liberty High School (LHS) said a 21st Century Grant makes after school enrichment programs — the LOVE Letters were done as a 21sth Century Grant Learning Center program — possible. This grant provides the opportunity for student learning outside the Standards of Learning (SOL).
    Dr. Dills gave Leslie Bowyer, the school’s art teacher, and the students credit.
    “Leslie put out this plan for these kids and they took it and ran with it,” she said.
    “We are really appreciative of this opportunity,” said Kim Halterman, Bedford Science and Technology Center’s (BSTC) administrator.
    The school’s construction students designed a concrete pad to support the letters, which weighed 300 pounds each. They calculated the thickness and dimensions of the pad, then poured it and finished it.
    The auto body students worked on the letters and applied the LHS student art, which had been converted to a wrap.
    “They usually work on cars,” she said, “but their skill set transferred really well here.”
    BSTC’s JROTC unit also got involved. They put their organizational skills to work to get the letters moved from BSTC to the Welcome Center.
    Landon Cheek, one of Liberty’s art students, said the LOVE Letters represent nine months of student work
    “We will always remember how we contributed to Bedford,” he said.
    Cheek gave special thanks to Bowyer.
    Daniel Metzger, one of the BSTC construction students, said he felt especially lucky to be a part of the project.
    “My classmates and I have acquired valuable, real world experience,” he commented.
    “God bless Bedford,” he concluded.
    Eddie Rice, an auto body student, met a special challenge. Another auto body student was supposed to speak at the ceremony, but had SOL testing that day. Rice was tabbed to take his place and had 15 minutes notice to figure out what he would say.
    Rice said they did lots of welding, grinding and painting on the letters.
    “Thank you Bedford County for letting us be a part of this,” he said.