Local leaders visit elementary school children

  • Published
  • By Airman Jason Wiese
  • 90th Missile Wing Public Affairs
Cheyenne Mayor Richard Kaysen walked down the hall of Freedom Elementary School to a third-grade classroom.

"It's the mayor," said one student prompting the mayor to walk over and greet him.

This was the scene when local leaders visited Freedom Elementary School to read to children of service members in an early observance of the Month of the Military Child March 26.

Freedom Elementary School celebrates what it calls the Week of the Military Child before April, the Month of the Military Child, because Spring Break is in April and the staff wants to recognize the children while they are still in school, said Sherry Upward, Freedom Elementary School counselor.

"We really want community leaders to recognize the children as the heroes they are," Upward said. "We recognize that the military is a family effort and the children are part of that."

Teachers, staff and visitors also showed their appreciation for the hardships the children face by wearing yellow corsages, Upward said.

"We know why you're wearing that," said one first-grade student pointing to a teacher's corsage. "It's for us."

"I want them to know that I, as governor, and the state of Wyoming are supportive," said Wyoming Governor Matt Mead, one of the distinguished visitors.

The visit has been a yearly occurrence since the opening of Freedom Elementary School six years ago, Upward said.

Visitors also included State Senator Floyd Esquibel and Cheyenne Board of Trustees members Bob Farwell and Jan Stalcup. Visitors read "The Wishing Tree," a story of a girl who ties wishes written on yellow ribbons to a tree every day that her father is deployed, a story that resounds with the children of military families.

Students wrote their own wishes on yellow ribbons and tied them around the trees in front of the school like the girl in the story.

Kaysen, a veteran of the Vietnam war, is aware of the hardships that military life can impose. Several students raised a hand when Kaysen asked who had parents who were currently deployed, and they asked him if anyone in his family had ever deployed. His father had fought in World War II, and he and his brother served in Vietnam, he said.

"I was deployed in a country called Vietnam," Kaysen said as he showed the class Vietnam's location on a globe. "There were conflicts -- we usually use the word war -- but it's something we have to deal with to maintain our freedoms."

Another way Mead showed his support was his recent signing of Senate Bill 78 that makes Wyoming the 41st state to join the Military Interstate Children's Compact Commission. This makes it easier for military children who frequently change schools when their parents change duty stations to have all of their credits transferred seamlessly. This helps ensure that they meet their educational goals on time, Mead said.

While reading to the children, Kaysen pointed to an illustration of people celebrating the return of deployed service members in the book and said, "Look at the smiles. That's really important."

The third grade class he was reading to, familiar with having deployed family members, was also full of smiles.