Flag and CertificateOn any Thursday afternoon at Bowie Elementary, you can expect to see students from different grade levels working together to create stories and letters. They call this activity “Writing Buddies,” and its fruits have been more fluent writing and excitement about the writing process.

On one special Thursday at the beginning of February, a Writing Buddy activity yielded more than the students could have imagined. The fourth grade students from Cynthia Simmons’ class and the second grade students from Darla Smith’s class collaborated to create Valentine cards that would be sent to deployed military personnel.

“We were giving them kindness because they could be upset that they missed their families,” explained second grader Kenzli Griffin.

The students “saw it as a chance to give back to members of the military whose job it is to protect us,” according to Miss Smith.

The result was around 40 Valentine cards sent to the care of Technical Sergeant  Aaron G. Garten, AC-130W Crew Chief, and his airmen from Cannon Air Force Base in Clovis, New Mexico. The soldiers were nearing the end of a six-month deployment in an active combat zone. According to TSgt Garten, the cards gave the men and women needed encouragement to complete the mission and remember their purpose.  The students were gratified to support those who defend our freedom, but a surprise awaited them in return.

Students from Bowie received the gift of a folded flag accompanied by a Certificate of Authenticity. The certificate describes that the flag “was flown in support of Operation Inherent Resolve on 14 February 2018 by an AC-130W ‘Stinger II’ Gunship in honor of Darla Smith and the Students of Bowie Elementary.”

“We weren’t expecting to get a flag back!” exclaimed fourth grader Jasmine Ituarte.  “It was really exciting.”

The flag and certificate now hold a special place at Bowie Elementary, and the remembrance of the exchange will hold a special place in the hearts of the students and teachers involved.

“Our students made a connection with the military community, and they learned that a small act of kindness can make a big difference,” Mrs. Smith said.