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Second-grader national finalist in military coloring contest

Caleb Duerr’s design for the coloring contest. 1 / 2
Jen Lundberg helps Caleb Duerr during class at Aurora Elementary in West Fargo. Carrie Snyder / The Forum2 / 2

Caleb Duerr needs your votes.

The 8-year-old Aurora Elementary second grader is one of five national finalists in the Eighth Annual Operation Caring Classroom Coloring Contest put on by the Armed Forces Foundation. The other finalists are from Fredericksburg, Va., and El Paso, Texas.

“(Being a finalist) makes me very happy,” Duerr said. “You get a t-shirt with your picture on it and a bike if you win.”

Operation Caring Classroom is a week-long program designed to educate elementary-aged school children about the nation’s Armed Forces. It began on Veterans Day and finished November 15. The program reached more than 40,000 students in 100 different schools nationwide in 2013.

“Last year we participated in the program and it was fun,” said Carol Zent, principal at Aurora Elementary. “It was very exciting news when I got the email saying Caleb was a finalist. We are very proud of him as well as the classroom teacher for incorporating this into her social studies curriculum and giving her students opportunities to participate in national contests.”

Jen Lundberg, Caleb’s teacher, hold this program close to her heart.

“Both of my brothers, my dad and my fiancé are in the military,” Lundberg said. “Anytime I can bring information about the military in and help the kids be aware of it, I definitely let them do it.”

Lundberg says Caleb is normally a very shy student who doesn’t like being recognized, but was “very proud for being recognized for this.”

His parents are also proud of his accomplishment.

“Normally an 8-year-old little boy doesn’t put that much thought and detail into an art project,” Rachel Duerr, Caleb’s mom said. “We’re trying to tell him it’s a huge honor for being in the top five. He’s hoping for that bike, but if he doesn’t win, he’s OK with just being recognized.”

Caleb didn’t have much to say about his inspiration for the design other than he likes camouflage and “it kind of fits in with what [soldiers] wear.”

“We got to the coloring contest in the packet and Caleb just really dove into it and took his time with it,” Lundberg said. “He came up with all the ideas himself.”

Votes for Caleb can still be made online. Voting runs through 11 a.m. on February 28 at the Armed Forces Foundation’s Facebook page at

Carrie Snyder
Carrie Snyder has been a staff photographer for The Forum since 2007. She grew up in Fargo and attended Minnesota State University Moorhead.  Have a comment to share about a story? Letters to the editor should include author’s name, address and phone number. Generally, letters should be no longer than 250 words. All letters are subject to editing. Send to .