For the fifth consecutive year, student writers from Canyon Ridge School in Surprise have achieved publication of their written work in the Veterans Heritage Project volume, "Since You Asked."
The annual release of this book highlights the service and sacrifice of American Veterans from all over Arizona. Students formulated questions, conducted interviews, selected photos and generated multiple drafts of a collective article about their chosen Veteran.
Guided by a teacher serving as editor, students gained experience with expository writing, use of primary documents and conveying historical events crucial in the life of their country.
The latest young authors join the nearly 50 Canyon Ridge School students who have been published with the Veterans Heritage Project and memorialized the service and recollections of eight Veterans since 2017.
The middle level contributors to the current VHP writing group were: Evan Friedrich, Alexander Galindo, Andrew Galindo and Christine Ubochi. Their months of planning, reading, writing and editing were focused on Vietnam Warveteran, Patrick Richard Alley.
Alley served as a helicopter crew chief in the United States Army, with many combat missions to his credit in Southeast Asia. He assisted in maintaining the Bell UH-1 Iroquois “Huey” aircraft and managed operations while airborne.
His crew was called upon to deliver troops, evacuate soldiers and civilians, and replenish supplies for Americans fighting on the front lines. Recollections of those experiences were enlightening for students at Canyon Ridge.
“I wanted to soak up the words and understand the challenges and hardships that determined Americans faced,” said student writer Evan Friedrich. “It is very important that the stories of our Veterans be preserved for generations to come.”
While conveying his memories of combat to our learners, Pat stressed that wars are not the only way to display heroism. “I define the word ‘hero’ as someone who forgets themselves and helps other people. You don’t have to participate in any way to achieve such a thing. In any moment when you are willing to forget yourself and put the needs of others first, then you become a hero.”
After his service in Vietnam, Alley taught science and mathematics for 33 years in Virginia Beach, Virginia. His real world teaching techniques, sense of humor, and genuine compassion for learners, inspired many of his students to later pursue professional endeavors in science, education or the Armed Forces.
“Pat Alley was the greatest teacher a student could ever ask for,” stated Canyon Ridge School Social Studies educator Christopher J. Raso.
He was my sixth grade teacher many years ago and has been a lifelong friend. So much of what I have accomplished as an educator is due to his example and guidance. With each passing year that my learners participated in the Veterans Heritage Project, I knew I wanted to find a way to tell Pat’s story of service to our nation.”