News Story for MRS. Ricklic's class.

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York 5th-graders to honor Nepsa

York Elementary 5th-graders Logan Hurst (L), Blake Burrell, Alexis Cunningham and Leah Mutti display their HeroBracelets in

memory of New Philadelphia's Cpl. Keith Nepsa, who was killed in Iraq in June.

In a Veterans Day Ceremony Nov. 9 in Cpl. Keith Nepsa's hometown, a group of 5th-graders at New Philadelphia's York Elementary will wear HeroBracelets bearing his name.

In early June, Nepsa, a 2003 New Philadelphia High graduate, was killed by a roadside bomb while on duty in Iraq.

His mother, Michele Nepsa, will attend the event with several of the soldier's friends and family. She also will be given sterling silver bracelets bearing her son's name.

Sharon Ricklic, teacher of the York 5th-graders, said the bracelets are a good way to honor soldiers.

"I wore a POW/MIA bracelet during the Vietnam War," she said. "When I heard about the HeroBracelets, I thought this would be a good way to honor our local soldier, so we added the presentation to our annual Veterans Day ceremony in our class."

Ricklic, who was named Ohio's Preserve America History Teacher of the Year last year for designing the educational Veterans Day proceedings for her students, learned of HeroBracelets on the Internet. Created by an Austin, Texas, advertising executive, Chris Greta, the bracelets are designed to honor U.S. servicemen and women who are deployed, injured or killed in the Iraq War.

Greta gives a portion of the purchase price of each bracelet to the Center for the Intrepid Foundation and the Fallen Heroes Fund in New York and San Antonio. The money goes to assist families adjusting to the loss of a loved one in the war or to help pay for rehabilitation. More than 60,000 bracelets have been sold, and the Web site,, has become a community for friends and families of the fallen and those who are serving.

With her students excited to honor Nepsa, Ricklic said, they have a variety of activities planned for the show.

"My 30 students do a wonderful presentation," Ricklic said. "They sing "˜American Tears' and explain the history of the USO, describe the meaning of the 13 folds of the flag, as well relating the importance of this day."

During the presentation, three girls in Ricklic's class also will wear period costumes from the 1940s and perform "The Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B."

"This year will be special because each of the kids will go home wearing a bracelet honoring Cpl. Keith Nepsa, as will his mother," Ricklic said. "Everyone in his hometown wants his family to know Keith will be remembered."

Principal Donna Edwards said the event at York Elementary is something "very real and relevant to our community."

"We want students to learn that veterans are real people," she said. "By dedicating this to Keith Nepsa, it makes them more aware that they are people - our neighbors, our cousins, our sons."

Ricklic said anyone can attend the Veterans Day ceremony, which will take place at 9 a.m. in the York Elementary gym. The program should last about 90 minut