COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – As hundreds of elementary school students throughout the Front Range community prepare for summer vacation, one local school teamed with soldiers from Fort Carson to host one of their biggest events of the year.
More than 30 soldiers assigned to 4th Battalion, 42nd Field Artillery Regiment, “Straight Arrows,” 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, joined faculty from Bricker Elementary School to host a field day for students in Colorado Springs, Colo., May 23.
“This was another great opportunity for the Straight Arrows to partner with the community and share some of the things that are important to the Army, through the Adopt-a-School Program,” said Capt. Timothy Sechrist, commander, Company G (Forward Support Company), 4th Bn., 42nd FA Regt.
The Straight Arrows arrived at Bricker Elementary School early in the morning to prepare an M109A6 Paladin self-propelled howitzer, cover a large picnic area with camouflage netting, and provide a water buffalo and other military vehicles for the event.
“All the vehicles we staged prior to the field day provided students an opportunity to get up close with equipment they had never seen,” said Sechrist. “They also got to ask questions about the vehicle each soldier was specialized in.”
Bricker Elementary interim principal, Kellie Moore, said many of the students had never met a soldier before, and had never seen Army equipment in real life.
“It’s our responsibility as educators to make sure these kids understand the importance of teamwork; that we give them a sense of country and community,” said Moore. “Our partnership with Fort Carson and the Straight Arrows is setting a solid foundation for these children's futures.”
Sechrist, a native of Philadelphia, said the soldiers learned just as much as the students.
“This was an amazing opportunity for our younger, more inexperienced soldiers to work on their leadership and team building skills,” said Sechrist. “The children looked to the soldiers for an example, and counted on them to help make decisions and work through problems during the activities.”
During the field day, students played at as many as 15 different physical activity stations.
“We really wanted to get the students outside and show them not only how important, but how much fun fitness can be,” said Justin Seigel, Bricker Physical Education teacher. “Soldiers were the perfect examples for these kids, especially in an era where children spend more time playing video games than engaging in outdoor activities.”
“My favorite activity of the day was working with the kids during the tug-of-war challenge,” said Spc. Tariq Collins, a petroleum supply specialist from New York City, currently assigned to Company G. “I split the teams up as boys versus girls, and I think even the parents were surprised how often the girls’ team won!”
“One of my favorite parts of the day was watching my students surround a Soldier after they completed an activity, and asking the soldier for his autograph,” said Siegel. “That really shows how much the soldier presence in their schoolhouse means to these kids.”
Following the event, Bricker Elementary thanked the Straight Arrows for their continued support in the Adopt-a-School Program.
“We are incredibly fortunate to have such a motivated and compassionate partner in the Straight Arrows,” said Moore. “They have gone above and beyond in dedicating time to help our school and our students, even during their holidays.”
Bricker Elementary and the Straight Arrows continue to plan future projects for the school, with the eventual goal of having soldiers assist faculty and mentor students during the school week.