Fort Bragg students celebrate being Army brats
Students at Irwin Intermediate School watch as members of the Golden Knights parachute team jump from an airplane during a ceremony celebrating military children April 12.

FORT BRAGG, N.C. -- It's not every day students get to watch their principal fall from a perfectly good airplane at 13,000 feet, but that's just how Irwin Intermediate School celebrated the Month of the Military Child April 12.

The day kicked off promptly at 9 a.m., with a few words from installation officials and then a rousing performance by the 82nd Airborne Division Chorus.

"We are here to celebrate you and everything that you go through," said Col. Stephen Sicinski, Fort Bragg garrison commander, said to the fifth and sixth graders.

The colonel explained to the children that he and his wife have raised three children and understands the hardships military children must endure.

"Our oldest daughter went to more than seven schools growing up," Sicinski said. "It's tough, but your primary job is to be a student. That's how you help yourself and your parents. Having an education will make you a successful adult."

April was designated the Month of the Military Child in 1986 and it's celebrated to honor the sacrifices that the sons and daughters of servicemembers make on a daily basis.

"These children have to overcome many challenges. They have parents who deploy, they have to move a lot and they really don't have a lot of control over anything," explained Michelle McLaughlin, president of the Irwin Parent-Teacher Organization.

McLaughlin said the PTO, through the efforts of Joe and Cathy Lamberti, worked on the days' events since October.

In addition to the concert by the 82nd chorus, the children were treated to a performance by the U.S. Army Parachute Team, better known as the Golden Knights. As an added treat, Dr. Tim Howle, the school's principal, demonstrated his parachuting skills as he tandem jumped with a member of the Golden Knights.

Howle is a retired Special Forces Soldier, so he felt at home plummeting to the ground at 150 mph. After he made it safely to the ground, Howle gave a few remarks and then received high-fives from his students.

"We are here to honor you guys," Howle said. "Right now, we have about 40 percent of our students who have one or more parent deployed. We appreciate everything you guys do by coming to class every day."

Bailey Rasmussen, an 11-year-old sixth grader, said she feels proud to be a military child but understands the stress the lifestyle carries. Her father is currently serving in Afghanistan.

"He deploys a lot," Rasmussen explained. "He goes for about three for four months at a time. I think this is his sixth deployment so far. It's nice that they have a month to honor military children so they don't feel left out. It's kind of stressful, but I'm really proud."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16