Helix Honors Veterans with Heroes' Garden

Helix Charter High School and The Mission Continues partnered to establish a garden to honor veterans with ties to the school.

Helix Charter High School and The Mission Continues have established The Helix Heroes' Garden to honor veterans with ties to the school. A crowd of approximately 75 students, staff, and community members attended the inaugural ceremony, including La Mesa Mayor Art Madrid, La Mesa City Council member Kristine Alessio, Grossmont Union High School District Superintendent Ralf Swenson, Helix Executive Director Dr. Mike Lewis, and Helix Charter Board member Bruce Crenshaw. Thirty-two service members, nominated by family, friends, and co-workers, were recognized for their service. The garden is located directly in front of the school's administration building. 

Navy veteran Ronnie Landfair spearheaded the project as part of his service with The Mission Continues.  The organization's website states "The Mission Continues awards community service fellowships to post-9/11 veterans, empowering them to transform their own lives by serving others and directly impacting their communities. Mission Continues Fellows serve for six months at a local nonprofit organization addressing key educational, environmental or social issues. Each Fellow works to achieve one of three outcomes at the conclusion of the fellowship: full-time employment, pursuit of higher education or a permanent role of service." 

Landfair partnered with Helix staff member Teresa Rutherford to see his vision come to life. The project was also supported by Home Depot, who provided a $400 donation, and Southwest Trophies, who provided a plaque to commemorate the garden. 

Landfair spoke passionately about his fellow veterans, noting that most Americans support our troops, but that veterans tend to be forgotten. He explained that he chose Helix for his service project after noticing the school when he played tennis on the school courts. After deciding he wanted to do something for Helix, he worked with Rutherford and learned more about the school. He addressed the students in attendance and expressed how impressed he was with the students and staff at Helix, stating that, "Helix is the most ideal place for learning."

The ceremony featured performances by the Helix Ukelele club, who played "America the Beautiful" and "What a Wonderful World" and a Helix Highlander Bagpipe soloist, who played "Amazing Grace". The veterans honored were:

Larry Allsup - father of Helix teacher/coach Sarah Allsup

Bill Bible - retired teacher (deceased)

Becki Battleson Chambers - Class of 1985

Douglas Baum - Class of 1967

Tom Cloud - retired teacher

James Peyton Cook - Class of 1962

Terry Crabtree - Class of 1969

Mark Demetris - Class of 1985

Raymond Draper - Class of 1985

Robert M. Draper - Class of 1982

Robert R. Draper

William Draper

John Geary - current teacher

William Hartman - Class of 1968

Tim Hathaway - Class of 1985

Norman Hayes - Class of 1965

Phillip Laframboise - Class of 1968

Erin Lesch - Class of 1984

Frank Leuke - retired teacher

Edwin Markey - Class of 2004

Bryon McCrary - Class of 1982

Tom McElfresh - current teacher

Michael Miller - Class of 1969

Robert Moretti - father-in-law of long-time Helix teacher, Christine Moretti

Dannie Morrison - Class of 1969

Brian Patterson - current teacher

Art Perea - Class of 1986

Eugene Rathman - Class of 1969

Jack Rowell - Class of 1983

Larry A Salmon - Class of 1967

Edward Zasueta - Class of 1965

Richard Zasueta - Class of 1964


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