For service far above the call of duty, the staff and students of Peebles Elementary School on Friday offered cookies, cards and most of all, their continuing grateful affection to their favorite soldiers.
In light of a new calendar year and a new semester, the school called its adopt-a-school unit, the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division to school for the first Friday of the year.
With company members standing in formation, school leaders read off the soldiers’ many volunteer efforts from the past semester and fourth-graders Edmuel Green and Osiris Trujillo delivered a box full of student-drawn notes.
“We couldn’t be more proud of you,” said assistant principal Eddie Benitez, a 22-year military retiree.
Last semester and last school year, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade soldiers gave time to read to students and supported special programs like choir performances, served Thanksgiving lunch, helped spruce up a garden and presented at career day.
Principal Gayle Dudley, praising the unit’s strong support, said soldiers also served as stand-in parents during monthly luncheons to honor top students when their parents could not attend.
Sgt. Carla Garcia worked closely with Peebles parent liaison Laura Bryant to arrange connections between the school and the company.
Going into its third year of partnership, Garcia said it’s a joy for soldiers to interact with students and that recruiting volunteers is never a problem.
Capt. Spencer Gray, unit commander, said the connection is a natural one and mutually beneficial.
“Anytime we can interact with the community it’s a chance to show we’re part of the community,” he said. “It’s great for our soldiers. Taking part in the school brings the added benefit of seeing the joy of kids.”
“The kids are so appreciative,” said Garcia. “This is one of the most fun parts of what we do. They can see there is more than combat to being a soldier.”
“Soldiers are people who help and protect us all,” said fourth-grader Carols Nunez. “They are a symbol that shows us we are all going to be OK.”
“I think it’s good they come to our school — they protect us and help us a lot,” said fourth-grader Saraly Gallardo. “Soldiers are good. They help us learn.”