For years, Vinton-Shellsburg High School students have been partners and friends with area veterans, inviting them to classes for sessions on their war experiences, raising money for Honor Flights, and and honoring them every Nov. 11.
Now, the VSHS Student Senate is organizing a fund-raiser to help finish a movie about the experiences of WWII medic and frequent VSHS guest John Gualtier.
A 15-minute short documentary was finished last year, and now the makers hope to expand on the project.
“We are working on securing funding for a feature film that highlights John’s incredible story and the larger issues our veterans who struggle with PTSD face,” says producer Brent Watkins. “If we succeed in producing the film, we will arrange screening events throughout the Creative Corridor and enter the film into regional and international film festivals.”

The Student Senate is doing a basket raffle for the project, and has also organized a screening of the first film at the school on Tuesday. Raffle ticket sales will continue until this Friday, Feb. 10, when the winning numbers will be drawn during the boys basketball game. Fans can purchase tickets during the game.

These are among the baskets to be raffled Feb. 10.

Watkins said the project relies on both private fund-raising efforts and media grants.
“We are currently working on our application for a major media grant from Humanities Iowa. If we succeed in getting that grant and our other fundraising efforts, production will move forward on the film later this year,” Watkins says.
The Thaler Holocaust Memorial Fund is the main fund-raising partner, says Watkins. All contributions will be routed through their nonprofit organization.
“Goodwill of the Heartland has also lent their support, since they have a program that serves homeless veterans in the Cedar Rapids and Quad Cities areas. As their Creative Services Manager, they have given me permission to use their media production studio to produce the film,” Watkins says.
Gualtier, as an Army Medic, was among the first U.S. soldiers to observe first-hand the horrors of the Holocaust and concentration camps.
At VSHS, there will be events throughout the to help this cause. The preview will take place in the High School Auditorium at 2:45 p.m. Tuesday, and all our welcome to join. On Thursday, February 9th, the Vinton-Shellsburg students will participate in a Hat Day and the Teachers will participate by wearing sweats for our vet. Along with those days, there will also be a raffle fundraiser going on February 10th at the home boys basketball game. There will be prizes from John’s Quick Stop, Elinghers, Post Prom, the Vinton Palace Theater, and the Vinton Popcorn Company. Student senate will also be presenting John with a check that night that will go towards making a full length documentary about his life, and his service to our country.
See a story about Gualtier in the documentary HERE.
See the film below.