High School Patriot Tigers Club Honors Vets

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Patriot Tigers

Tiffany Morris (left) and Cynthia Morris

When John Morris’ daughters asked him to help in their high school club’s effort to honor teachers who were veterans, John jumped in with both feet. “We pretty much take on any task or challenge for our veterans that is asked of us, with the help of our sponsors,” said John, founder of The Patriot Woodworker online community. This tight-knit group was founded on the principles of sharing, mentoring and learning from fellow woodworkers. “Above all, we have one thing in common,” John continued. “We all support the men and women who serve our nation.”

Patriot Tigers

Plaques created to honor veterans

The Challenge

Cynthia Morris, a senior at San Jacinto High School in San Jacinto, California, is the founder and president of the Patriot Tigers Club, while younger sister Tiffany, a freshman, serves as the club’s treasurer.  The club gives back to local military by spreading awareness and appreciation of our military’s sacrifices in order to preserve life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  The girls and their group wanted to honor veterans within the San Jacinto Unified School District with a special event and plaque for each service member.

John spoke highly of the Patriot Tigers, saying, “It’s really nice to see this kind of support for our men and women in service. Some of these kids really did not have any direction in the area of pride of country and appreciation for service members. Many just joined the club for the community service hours, but after they became involved, and worked side by side with veterans, disabled veterans mainly, they gained a whole different perspective of life and service.”
Jeroid Morris

Young Jeroid helped by applying finish to the plaques

The Plaques

Using hardwood boards of walnut, curly maple and birch that Cynthia personally selected with her father at their local lumberyard, John set out to complete 32 7ʺ x 9ʺplaques in time for the event.

First step was to get the boards cut and sized, edges chamfered and sanded to 150. He used a 45 degree ½ʺ shank chamfer bit chucked up into his router table.

John is a fan of “gang sanding” his boards, which cuts down on the work considerably, is easier on the sanding pad and puts less stress on the sander.  Using this method, he continued sanding from 150 grit through 600 grit for a nice, smooth surface on the plaques.

Next step was to add some finish.  John’s son Jeroid, a 6th grader, volunteered to help by brushing on liberal coats of Watco Danish Oil to each plaque and then wiping it off to create a nice color and luster.

Cynthia selected walnut, curly maple and birch for the plaques.

"Gang sanding" the boards makes the sanding work go quicker.

Plaques were coated with oil and wax for a beautiful sheen.

John drilled holes on the backs for hanging.


2" service medallions were attached to the plaques.

John waited a couple days for the two coats of oil to set up on the plaques, and then he was ready to wax them. “I always love to wax my projects. I swear the project looks far better with a coat of wax,” John explained. “The wax does a couple things – it creates an even sheen where just leaving a finished project with finish leaves unleveled and different sheens.” He used the lighter Johnson Paste Wax for the light wood award blanks, and the darker maple Liberon Black Bison finishing wax for the darker woods.

The project came down to the wire for John, who worked up until a few hours before the event to get the plaques completed in time. The hours ticking down, he opted not to install picture hangers on the backs of the awards, but instead drilled a hole for hanging. “It actually turned out pretty well,” John said. “It looked pretty neat to have a nice bored hole for hanging instead of shiny hardware.” To complete this task, he chucked up the ¼ʺ Forstner bit in his drill press and clamped some guides on, so all he had to do was line up each plaque before boring.

A sponsor partner for this project, Anady’s Trophies and Engravinin Hemet, California, supplied the 2ʺ service medallions and engraved brass plates. After John’s assembly line process to attach the medallion and plates, the plaques were loaded up and delivered to the venue, which also included dinner for the honorees.

Patriot Tigers

Cynthia Morris addressing the veterans.

The presentation

“Our girls and the club members really worked hard to make this a wonderful event for our school district employee veterans,” John beamed. The veterans were encouraged to arrive in full dress uniform and many did. “It was a wonderful sight.”

After dinner, the veterans were each presented their plaques. Cynthia took the microphone and asked that the veterans please stand at their table when their name was called, “You have done enough for us in service of our nation. We will come to you and present you with the plaque.”

Proud father John remarked, “I thought this was pure class. Each veteran stood at their table and Patriot Tiger Club members took turns presenting the plaques to them.” Each child shook their hand and gave them a solemn message of thanks.

Members of the club greeting veterans as they arrived for the special event.
In addition to the recognition plaques, veterans were treated to dinner.

The night’s main speaker was Patriot Tigers Club adviser and Sergeant First Class Michael Luna. The San Jacinto High School AFJROTC Color Guard was also on hand to present the colors.

“These kids worked really hard with this club; we could not be more proud of their effort and their Patriot spirit they demonstrated by giving back to those who gave so much,” John reflected.

With every reason to be proud, John noted, “Our two daughters love our veterans. They volunteer countless hours performing local community service, and we take their club out of town to help at Homes for Our Troops events. They have a burning desire of volunteerism in their hearts.” Little brother Jeroid will likely follow in his sisters’ footsteps. “He is coming up the rear with the same volunteer ethics for community service and compassion to our fellow man.”

John was quick to thank those who support The Patriot Woodworker, which allows projects like this to take place. “I was able to create the awards for our veterans only because our supporters have contributed funding to our organization.” Woodcraft is proud to be a long-time sponsor of The Patriot Woodworker.

For more information about this project or to contribute to The Patriot Woodworker’s mission, check out their website. To learn about the Patriot Tigers Club, click here.

To read about more outstanding teens, check out these stories:
Bloom Where You Are Planted
Let's Go Glamping
A Glamper with a Purpose

Great job, Patriot Tigers Club! We applaud your dedication to honoring and serving the military men and women in your area.

We hope you’ll be inspired!

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