Craig Gustavson saw a tattered American flag flying at Sparks High School and inadvertently started a tradition.
Now the Sparks High School JROTC and others want to make sure everyone sees the flag flying proudly at the school.
“It all started when I was walking my dog in Paradise Park (off of Oddie Boulevard) and I saw a faded, torn flag at the Sparks High School,” says Gustavson.
The ex-Marine and alumnus of Sparks High School (Class of 1962), Gustavson replaced the school’s tattered flag at the time.
However, in 2012 when the 50th anniversary of his high school reunion came around, Gustavson came back with a new flag to celebrate and presented it at a Sparks’ school assembly. A local media outlet snapped a photo of Gustavson with a caption about this being a “new tradition at Sparks High” and it has since continued on.
“It became a tradition before I even gave the school the flag,” he says. “Now every year each class celebrating their 50th flies the flag,” Gustavson adds. The program has been alive and well for the last few years, including Mayor Geno Martini’s class celebrating their 50th Sparks High School reunion by bestowing the school with a new flag.
“Geno Martini was the third person to give the high school a new flag; he is three classes behind me,” says Gustavson. He added that all of the retired flags are in shadow boxes displayed in the school’s hallway.
However, Gustavson says that the flagpole in which the American flag flies is between two trees that have grown up a lot, making it barely visible. The high grade steel lanyard is starting to fray and you can’t see the flag unless you are standing directly in front of it.
“The flagpole is deteriorating so they just need a whole new one,” Gustavson says. Luckily, the school’s JROTC took on the challenge and launched a Giving Trail campaign to raise funds for a new flagpole.
Sparks High School Principal Kevin Carroll says that the school is excited about the prospect of getting a new flagpole as well.
“Getting a new flag pole and locating it on the grass on the southwest side of the school will allow it to be completely visible from many angles of our school,” says Carroll.
“The support of the alumni classes of ’62, ’63, ’64, ’65, and ’66 has been much appreciated in raising funds for this to take place. Our JROTC program and Major Herrera have also been instrumental in working with the alumni in moving forward with this process. Installing a new flagpole may sound like an inexpensive and easy process, but surprisingly it is costly and installation requires certain permits, work orders, and requirements before the installation can even begin.’’
“It costs about $10,000 to install a new flagpole in the open lawn area in front of the Administration building, south of where it is now,” says Gustavson.
The Sparks High School JROTC has raised about $1100 of the $10,151 goal and there are 51 days left in the campaign.
“On behalf of classes ‘62, ‘63, ‘64, ‘65 and ‘66, we would like to thank Kevin, Amy, and Major Herrera’s awesome JROTC for the support you gave us all in creating a tradition at Sparks High,” says Gustavson.
To contribute monies towards a new flagpole, visit https://givingtrail.org/campaigns/200065/new-flag-pole-for-sparks-high-school.