TEMPLE, Texas – Third, fourth and fifth graders at Pirtle Elementary School got to learn about a few jobs in the Army and don Army gear as part of the school's annual career day April 24, 2015.
Soldiers from the school's partnered unit, 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, spoke to students about serving in the Army as an infantryman, a cavalry scout, a tank crewman, a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear specialist, and a few other jobs.
“I wanted to give back and see a different side of things,” said Sgt. Anthony Caldwell, an infantry team leader with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2-5 CAV. “Talking with the students and helping them try on our gear was really fun. They were very perceptive and had lots of questions.”
The Baltimore native talked to students about the role of the infantry and brought along interceptor body armor and a fully-packed ruck sack for students to try on.
Sgt. Anthony Caldwell passes around an advanced combat helmet April 24, 2015 during career day at Pirtle Elementary in Temple, Texas. Caldwell, an infantry team leader with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, spoke about being an infantryman in the U.S. Army with third, fourth and fifth-graders at the school. The battalion is partnered with the elementary school as part of the Fort Hood Adopt-a-School program. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Keith Anderson)
The cavalry battalion is partnered with the school through the III Corps and Fort Hood Adopt-a-School Program. School officials said the partnership is beneficial for students from military families and civilian families.
“We have a lot of children in the school from military families, and having Soldiers come out to the school helps those students connect to the school and community, but for our students that have no connection to the military, Soldiers are good role models and help encourage academic success,” said Pamela Nieves, Pirtle Elementary School principal.
Christy Sharum, school counselor, said that many students see Soldiers as heroes, but meeting them in person adds a new dimension.
“Just because they're heroes doesn't mean they're not fun,” said Sharum. “It's an educational process. Students got to talk and ask questions and try on equipment, and learned that there are many different jobs, and regular people, working in the military.”
Sgt. Quashawn Johnson, a CBRN specialist with HHC, 2-5 CAV, got big reactions from the students when he donned the protective mask and joint service integrated suit technology for the students.
“They think I'm Darth Vader,” said Johnson, a native of Hertford, North Carolina. “I think they thought it was pretty cool to try on the mask.”
Students heard from many other speakers at the Pirtle Elementary School career day, including a nurse, a youth pastor, a police officer with a police dog, a sports reporter, and a storyteller, but the 2-5 CAV Soldiers were a tough act to follow.
“I think students were very engaged with the Soldiers; lots of equipment to see and touch,” said Catherine Eamma, a student teacher at the school.
Staff Sgt. Nith Keo, Adopt-a-School coordinator, 2-5 CAV, said that, over the past year, more than 80 Soldiers in the battalion got the opportunity to participate in the Adopt-a-School program with Pirtle Elementary, amassing more than 200 volunteer hours.
“We've served as mentors, coaches and assisted the school with many events,” said Keo, a native of St. Petersburg, Florida. “The program has had a strong impact on all of us, and, from the feedback I've gotten from teachers, school staff members, students and parents, we have made a positive contribution at the school.”
Keo said that volunteering is a rewarding experience.
“Soldiers always enjoy volunteering with the school because it gives them a sense of purpose to contribute to the local community,” said Keo. “It takes them out of everyday training to get to spend some time with some amazing children and do something really meaningful.”
Community programs like the Adopt-A-School program are important to Army, and Soldiers are encouraged to volunteer, Keo said.
Soldiers can earn volunteers hours for all off-duty volunteering, and should register in the Volunteer Management Information System and input volunteer hours, he said.
“This give Soldiers the opportunity to earn volunteer awards, such as the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal, and the opportunity to be recognized as the Fort Hood Volunteer of the Month,” said Keo.
By U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Keith Anderson
Provided through DVIDS
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