Education column: Airmen offer students advice

Cindy Kleyn-Kennedy

I was very moved by a unique sight the other day: Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps students presented colors at a special ceremony honoring veterans.

Looking around Yucca’s school cafeteria, I saw it was filled with a considerable number of Cannon Air Force Base personnel in uniform standing in total silence — at attention — as the students performed their routine. Of course they would stand at attention, but still, there was something very touching in seeing our impressive Air Force men and women according such respect to the moment; I’m sure the students felt the same. It was followed by a beautiful acapella rendition of our national anthem, sung by parent Yolanda Romero.

The Veterans Day events began earlier that morning with the first period advisory class, a shortened, 20-minute period set aside daily for teachers to mentor groups of students. The day’s focus for each class was a presentation by one of the Air Force personnel.

I joined Linda Pierce’s advisory group, which met in the library, where Airman 1st Class Michael Bradley from Augusta, Ga., spoke to students and answered their questions.

Bradley told students he wished he’d taken school more seriously, worked harder when he had the opportunity and that he was currently continuing his education. It was easy to see the positive impact of this upstanding young man reflected in the faces of the students.

Later, Airman 1st Class Carly Kerr, accompanied by her adorable baby girl, shared that she and her husband were both in the Air Force, and her advice to students was, “Get an education.” She, too, is continuing her degree locally. Pilot Mike Black, an Air Force Academy graduate, said students should realize they don’t have to be the best, but they should never be afraid to try. Sitting with him was Flight Engineer Tim Carson, who offered that students should follow their dreams and not let anyone tell them they can’t succeed.

These Veterans Day activities were a continuation of a project begun some weeks prior.

Science teacher Ann Sharp and motivated student teacher Sergio Nieto decided to begin a military “brag board” as an ongoing project to honor former Yucca students that are currently (or formerly) serving in any of the armed forces.

They put a lot of their spare time into researching, collecting information and creating the brag board. Alongside the brag board was an unusual flag hanging on the wall. It was made entirely of paper hands, providing a striking look and texture, and I was told that every Yucca student had made a cutout of their hand in red, white or blue to “build” it.

Ann Sharp is grateful for the wonderful resource of Cannon Air Force Base: “It’s important to bring everyday happenings into the classroom, and the brag board is an essential link to our history, linking the past to the future.”

If you know of any former Yucca students now or previously in the military, please contact Yucca Middle School at 769-4420.