News: 'Gunslingers' bond with students at ribbon cutting and flag raising ceremony
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Chris Bridson
FORT HOOD, Texas – The Fort Hood Adopt-A-School program is designed to encourage community relations, increase public awareness of the Army’s mission and use unit resources to nurture the emotional, social and physical growth of the students in our neighboring schools.
At Raye-Allen Elementary School in Temple, Texas, Tuesday, soldiers from the 553rd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 4th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), held a ribbon cutting ceremony for the installation of the schools new AAS sign marking the start of a new partnership between the “Gunslingers” and the “Eagles” students and faculty.
“Today we begin a partnership together as a community, to build a stronger relationship between the soldiers who defend our nation and the students standing before us,” said Lt. Col. Keith McVeigh, commander of the 553rd CSSB.
As children, parents, and faculty members gathered around the school’s flag pole, soldiers raised the nation’s colors and rendered a salute to start the ceremony before moving to the site of the new sign.
“We are going to embrace our duties of guiding and mentoring our most precious asset and gift, that is the youth of America,” McVeigh added.
Staff Sgt. Thomas Kent, a native of Baltimore, and the Adopt-A-School representative for the 602nd Support Maintenance Company, 553rd CSSB, organized the ceremony and has been the main driving force behind establishing a relationship with Raye-Allen Elementary School.
“Today’s purpose is to show the kids that we are here to help coach, mentor, and be there for them by showing a presence in the school and the community,” said Kent. “Today we showed the kids how to raise and lower their flag and let them know that this is something that they can do.”
For the ribbon cutting, Lt. Col. McVeigh was joined by the school Principal Gail Leidy, Temple Independent School District Superintendent Dr. Robin Battershell, and various students from the third, fourth, and fifth grades that will be raising and lowering the school’s flag every day.
“The main purpose for today was to get our partnership going with Fort Hood and have the soldiers become a part of our school community,” said Leidy.
“We had a flag raising ceremony, which was probably the first time our students had ever seen something that formal, and also the dedication of the sign showing that they have come together with us to be partners,” she added.
Principal Leidy added that she was excited the 602nd SMC are now partners with her school and looks forward to working with the soldiers on a regular basis.
“I think it’s going to establish some good role models for patriotism in America and we need that in this day and time,” she said.
The soldiers of the 602nd SMC have already planned some future visits to the school and will be helping the faculty during lunch and with the after school mentorship program.