By Clemens GainesNovember 21, 2018
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - The color guard for the 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives (CBRNE) Command presented the colors and met with students and teachers, and local veterans, at the John Archer School's American Education Week assembly Nov. 12.
The assembly started with the honor guard leading a parade of students, some in wheelchairs, waving red, white and blue pompoms and clapping, around the Bel Air, Maryland school. More than 150 students, parents and staff attended the event. Special guests included local veterans with many wearing a baseball cap that identified their military branch.
The audience rose as the color guard presented the colors, then recited the Pledge of Allegiance and sang the Star Spangled Banner played by the band from their next-door neighbors at the Harford Technical School.
Flags were everywhere in the multi-purpose room, which had a wall display with the flag of each military branch, as well as the POW-MIA flag, and a large banner of an eagle above the American flag.
"What a great celebration!" said Principal Randy Geyer. "We are always so honored and feel so very privileged to have our good neighbors at APG help us celebrate Veterans Day. Our students love the Soldiers from APG and love that they lead our parade!"
Sgt. 1st Class John Binot, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the color guard from Asbury Park, New Jersey, leads the team. The members included Sgt. Corey Mclendon from Statesboro, Georgia; Sgt. William Pridgen from Kinston, North Carolina; Spc. Tedrick Jackson from Fort Worth, Texas; Spc. Kayla Riehl from Colorado Springs, Colorado; and Spc. Jason Rubio from Belton, Texas.
In addition, the Soldiers, who are volunteers for the color guard, serve the Army in several key areas: Jackson, Pridgen and Mclendon are information technology specialists, Riehl is a supply specialist while Rubio is a signal support specialist. Binot is a team leader on a weapons of mass destruction coordination team.
During the 45 minute program, Principal Randy Geyer introduced the six Soldiers in the color guard and asked the veterans in the audience to identify which service they were in and when they served. He also played a patriotic program broadcast by the Public Broadcasting Service.
American Education Week is November 12-16, 2018. It is an opportunity to celebrate public education and honor individuals who are making a difference in ensuring that every child receives a quality education.
John Archer School is the only separate public day school educating students with severe and profound disabilities in Harford County.
After the program, the color guard went to classrooms and accepted high-fives and hugs from the students. "It was awesome," shared Jackson who is an uncle to eight nieces and nephews.
In meeting some of the veterans, Riehl noted that "It is a privilege to serve after them - they served and did the hard part."
"As a veteran of the United States Army," said Stephanie Sauter, the library media specialist at John Archer School, "Veterans Day is exceedingly meaningful to me. It's a day I want all of my students to understand and celebrate. I am always so honored to work alongside the good men and women of APG to honor veterans. I miss my Soldiers and love the brief chance I get to work with those on active duty who are continuing to keep our country safe."