By Roger O’Neil Correspondent
NBC News
updated 11/5/2004 7:40:05 PM ET 2004-11-06T00:40:05

There's always an extra dose of patriotism at Trojan football games and there's always time to say the pledge in ROTC. Their allegiance is so strong because 40 percent of the nearly 1,300 students at Fountain-Fort Carson High School have one or both parents in the military.

"We don't live in a dream world down here," says Dean of Students and football coach Mitch Johnson. "It's really tough on them."

And with a new round of deployments in Iraq starting, the reality of war is on everyone's mind again. Angel Archuleta's mom leaves in January.

"The fact that it's my family over there, I get really scared," says Angel. "And some times I'm like, why are we over there?"

So far no one at this school has lost a parent but it's a constant fear. There's a support system of listeners, friends, teachers and counselors.

Gilbert Acevedo's father is in Afghanistan.

"It makes it hard to concentrate on my homework," says Gilbert. "I try to start, and I just can't focus."

Some of the military kids are living with surrogate parents — and that helps — but a new picture from mom is the best medicine for a lonely heart. 

Andre Faulkner always wears his mom's dog tags except when he plays football. Sports and other extracurricular activities here have become important diversions for the students. 

"It helps them come together with a group of players and establish some relationships as a family away from their family," says coach Johnson.

The Trojan football team hasn't won a lot of games on the field this season. But the Friday night lights here are shining brightly on a school community trying to deal with families split up by war.

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