The Centre K-12 student body came out in full force Sept. 10 to greet a convoy of six military vehicles bringing soldiers from Ft. Riley, who were arriving to spend the day. The convoy included three Humvees, a wrecker, and two five-ton trucks used to haul supplies and troops.
Counselor Jill Day welcomed the 20 members of Bravo Company 299 Brigade Support Battalion. She directed an interactive hour-long program in the gymnasium.
“We want you to know that we support you 100 percent in your endeavors,” she said.
Music teacher Amy Harms led group-singing of patriotic songs.
Centre cheerleaders led the assembly in Cougar cheers, and the band accompanied the singing of the school fight song.
The soldiers gave a short presentation of a typical swearing-in ceremony and did a series of push-ups.
The gymnasium rocked as the entire student body spread out on the gym floor with the soldiers to perform the Sid Shuffle. Students presented the men with handcrafted memorabilia, and Day gave each soldier a Cougars pin.
The program ended with the singing of, “I’m Proud to be an American.”
The men ate lunch with students and visited classrooms in the afternoon. Students also got a chance to go outside and investigate the soldiers’ vehicles.
“We got to eat lunch with the soldiers,” first-grader Anna Vinduska said.
She said the most exciting part was touching and getting into the military vehicles.
“I got to see the soldiers, and I got to do the steering wheel, push buttons, and honk the horn,” first-grader Samuel Rziha said.
Centre and the 299th Brigade have a partnership pact that was signed in May 2013. Soldiers regularly visit the school to interact with students.
“I hope the kids are able to realize that we are here for them,” Cpl. Johnathan Custodio said. “We’re not just a government entity; we’re also part of the family of Kansas.”
The men have set up a pen-pal arrangement with several classes.
The unit is preparing to deploy to Southeast Asia in October.