Students get to be ‘Army Strong’

| November 24, 2010 | 0 Comments

Story and Photo by
Donna Klapakis
599th Transportation Group Public Affairs

Sgt. 1st Class Emilio Calzada, 599th Transportation Bde. first sergeant, listens to students count off while doing jumping jacks during a PT session with Soldiers.

WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD — Soldiers from the 599th Transportation Brigade, here, showed 80 students at Kaala Elementary School in Wahiawa a different kind of recess Nov. 17, when they shared elements of a typical Army physical training workout with second-graders.

“They were dying for the Soldiers to get here,” said Alison Thatcher, second-grade teacher at Kaala. “This is the highlight of their week. They love anything with Soldiers.”

While Sgt. 1st Class Emilio Calzada, the brigade’s first sergeant, was putting half of the 7- and 8-year-old students through the paces of their first PT session, Sgt. 1st Class LoNika Harris, noncommissioned officer in charge of plans, gave the other half of the students an up-close look at the Soldiers’ armored vests and helmets.

Students handed around an armored plate from the back of the vest and then took turns trying on the vest and helmet.

After 15 minutes, the students changed sides. Those who had already tried on the equipment moved over to learn to march, salute and do jumping jacks and push-ups with a military-style count.

As the children got ready to go back into the school after the 30-minute event, Aiyana Marie Fujiyama, 7, said she had enjoyed the jumping jacks the most, while Anela Schmidt, 7, said her favorite part was just seeing the Soldiers.

Thatcher said that although the school is close to Wheeler Army Airfield and Schofield Barracks, less than 1 percent of the children are from military families.

“This activity demonstrated the true mission of our military partners, and that is to provide people (with) an opportunity to live their lives to the fullest,” said Ted Fisher, Kaala principal.

“Working with the military has always been a positive and uplifting experience for us,” Fisher said. “The students come from a challenging environment, and it’s important for them to see there are people who care. Even though the Soldiers are tasked with other responsibilities right now, I appreciate that they come to spend time with the children.”

“This has been really great,” Thatcher said. “The kids are very excited, and they love feeling like they are part of the military, and just doing special things. I hope they can do this more, and this can continue for them for years to come.”

Calzada, who arrived in Hawaii in May, plans to continue to volunteer with the students. He has volunteered at schools close to his assignments for the past five years.

“I have a friend, a teacher here, who helped set this up,” he said.

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Category: Army Community Covenant, Community

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