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    USARC soldiers share military experience with students

    USARC soldiers share military experience with students

    Photo By Timothy Hale | U.S. Army Maj. Marisol Chalas, a senior pilot with the U.S. Army Reserve Command...... read more read more



    Story by Timothy Hale  

    U.S. Army Reserve Command

    FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. – U.S. Army Reserve command soldiers shared their military experiences of flying helicopters to geography trivia with students at a recent career day here, May 2, 2013.

    New Century International Elementary School’s second annual career day encouraged students to learn about different careers – both military and non-military – in order for them to start planning their futures.

    “I think the sooner that kids are exposed to positive messages about the military, the better, whether they go into the military or not,” said Col. John Newcomer, U.S. Army Reserve Command, chief of the aviation directorate. “It’s not only for them to connect with us, it’s for us to connect with them.”

    School officials say that while approximately half of the student population comes from a military family, it is the other half who often does not understand what their classmates go through as a military child.

    One of these students is Abigail Sullivan, a bright 10 year-old who recently won a spelling bee. Sullivan, whose father is an Army lieutenant colonel at Fort Bragg, has moved six times in her life thus far.

    “I tell them that I’ve moved a lot and I’ve made lots of friends moving but sometimes it’s difficult to move,” Sullivan said.

    Sullivan, who was born at Fort Stewart, has lived in Michigan, West Point, N.Y., Indiana, Fort Drum, N.Y. and now in the Fort Bragg area. “There are always pros and cons about being a military child,” Sullivan said, speaking as someone with experience well beyond her age.

    She said the upside of moving is meeting new friends and going to new places, but the downside is leaving those friends and places that she loves. She added, Fort Drum was her favorite – even when it’s cold.

    “It was my favorite place to live, but I also liked Indiana,” she said.

    Geography was the topic of discussion between Newcomer, a native of Lock Haven, Pa., and his students he visited. He challenged them to stump him in naming state capitols.

    “California!” a little girl shouted. Newcomer, placing his hand on his forehead in intense concentration as if he didn’t know, looked up suddenly and replied, “Sacramento!” which brought a collective cry of “you tricked us!”

    Army Reserve Capt. Jason Tolbert, who served on a civil affairs team in Iraq, shared photos and stories of his travels around the world with second graders.

    “An education can take you where ever you want to go,” said Tolbert, a native of Burnsville, Minn.

    Over in the kindergarten wing, Marisol Chalas and Lindsey Halter, both majors and UH-60 Black Hawk pilots with the USARC Aviation Directorate, and Sgt. 1st Class Larry Franklin, a quartermaster Soldier with the USARC G-3/5/7 Force Management Directorate, also shared their military experiences.

    “I think it is important to give back to the community especially around here with Fort Bragg being such a big part of the town,” said Halter, a native of Apple Valley, Minn. “It made me realize why we do this. Personally I feel like I got more out of it than they did.”

    Chalas, who was born in the Dominican Republic but calls Lynn, Mass., home, helped school officials start the career day and the weekly lunch buddy program. She said USARC Soldiers who visit the school regularly have learned that many of the students need and want to see them.

    That need was shown when six year-old Xavier Jones surprised Chalas, Halter, and Franklin with a hug for each of them after their presentation was over.

    “Even though we’re only here for one hour of our time during the week, many of these kids need us just to listen to them,” Chalas said.

    “It gives the kids something to look up to as an inspiration,” said Franklin, a native of Freeport, N.Y. “We’re coming out on career day and giving them details on what we do and how we serve the country.”

    Guidance counselor, Mary Bethea, said the military-student connection is key to a successful program.

    “They (students) need to be aware the military supports us and what their functions are as a job … and how the military supports all of the United States,” Bethea said.

    Hilca Lewis, co-chair of the career day, said the students really enjoy the pilots.

    “That was the highlight last year,” Lewis, who works with kindergartners, said.

    Regardless of the profession, Lewis said presenters should be flexible and have a little charisma to connect and engage with the students – no matter the grade or age.



    Date Taken: 05.02.2013
    Date Posted: 05.03.2013 10:56
    Story ID: 106286
    Location: FAYETTEVILLE, NC, US 
    Hometown: APPLE VALLEY, MN, US
    Hometown: BURNSVILLE, MN, US
    Hometown: FREEPORT, NY, US
    Hometown: LOCK HAVEN, PA, US

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