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Taking art to heart

The decision to allow such an intense, graphic exhibit into the school was not one that was arrived at lightly, said High School Principal Imran Abbasi. District Superintendent Teresa Thayer Snyder put it best, he said.

"She said, 'Our kids are going to see one of these guys in the grocery store.' It's reality...I think some things are there and they're out there," Abbasi said. "It's thought provoking and it will make them ask questionsthen they make their own decisions and judgments."

Art teacher Marie Triller, who manages the gallery space, said it's a great opportunity to have not only world-renowned work in the school, but also work that encourages students to think about the world around them.

"Overall, it's been very positive," she said of student reaction. "They're very moved by it."

High school student Anna Mae Lanahan said with two cousins serving overseas, the images touch close to home.

"I think it's good for people to see what it's like there," she said. "They're sacrificing their lives for others."

Though many might expect "Purple Hearts" to carry an anti-war bent, Berman did her best to keep the work removed. She interviewed the soldiers during the photography sessions, and their thoughts are reflected in captions posted with the images. They run the gamut, much as public opinion towards the war might be varied in civilian circles.

"I spent a lot of time with guys fresh back from Vietnam that still had time to serve. And all the things they experienced, we talked about," said Alft, who was stationed in Louisiana. "I see these returning Iraq War veterans and it's a lot of the same stories It's honest, it's what they really felt, and I think that's what shines through, is the truth."

"Purple Hearts" is open to the public and free to view. Those who wish to stop by during school hours should make sure to sign in at the main office.""

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