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School, American Legion join for flag disposal project
Students paint mailbox that will be used to collect retired American flags
East Hall High School sophomores from left: Aaron Corona, 16, Omar Gonzalez, 15, and Saul Lopez, 16, haul a painted mailbox Tuesday into a van. Art students at East Hall decorated and painted the donated mailbox, which will serve as a drop box at the American Legion post for retired American flags. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

American Legion Paul E. Bolding Post 7 on Riverside Drive has teamed up with East Hall High School on a project to give people a way to dispose of worn U.S. flags.

Students painted a red, white and blue flag on a mailbox that had been donated by the U.S. Postal Service and presented it Tuesday morning to Roger Keebaugh, former commander of the American Legion post.

"Thank you all for the great job you've done," Keebaugh told students as they placed the mailbox in the back of his van.

The plan now is to place the box in front of post headquarters, replacing a red, white and blue barrel there now. An exact location will be determined after a meeting next week, Keebaugh said.

And the hope is the mailbox will provide a permanent solution to a problem that has long dogged the American Legion — proper disposal of U.S. flags.

"People would bring them by and we had to do something with them, so we just stored them," Keebaugh said. "They had been stored over the years — they had been put in a place and forgotten."

Memorial Park Funeral Home in Gainesville helped dispose of a number of flags, burning them in a crematorium and spreading the ashes over a veterans section of its cemetery, Keebaugh said.

Post 7 learned the Postal Service had donated a bunch of retired mailboxes to the American Legion at large.

"We picked one up (in Canton) and brought it over here to the school (to be painted)," Keebaugh said. "They've done a fantastic job. It's exactly what we wanted."

Dennis Shirley, automotive teacher at East Hall, said his students applied a primer and a weather-resistant base to the mailbox, then turned it over to the art department.

"First, we came up with a lot of complicated ideas," said art teacher Michael Valley. "We tried one idea, but there were so many angles to (the mailbox), we had to simplify the idea into a nice, flowing flag kind of concept.

"We wanted to feel like the flag is wrapping around (the mailbox), hugging it in a certain sense, flowing at the same time."

Josh Bryant, 16, a 10th-grader, said he helped in painting the stars.

"It's out there," Bryant said of the design and finished product. "It looks pretty nice."