Celebrating the Month of the Military Child, two local schools, Murray and Diamond Elementary Schools held their annual prize patrols on Fort Stewart April 30 and May 7, presenting awards and prizes to about 10 students from each of the schools.

Spc. Ernesto Barraza, 549th Military Police, on April 30, escorted Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield Garrison Commander, Col. Jason Wolter and Murray Elementary School principal Brian Perry, Murray Elementary organizer Jackie Bell, and a team of teachers as they visited Lydia Muse, Hannah Henry, Luna Organtes, Antwoine McGhee, Makay la Finn, Peyton Balzly, Raynier Rodriguez, Nicolette Stepp, Faylyn Lance, and Peytron Heffron.

The Diamond Elementary event was initially scheduled for May 2, but was pushed to the following week due to bad weather. But the spirits remained enthusiastic as each child was greeted by a cheering crowd.

Spc. Gina Dolson, 549th MP Co., on May 7, escorted garrison operations officer Lt. Col. Paul Grant, Diamond Elementary School Principal Talisha Thompson, Diamond event coordinator Maryland Carter and their team, to visit Diamond students Brogan Post, Sophia Musso, Guievere Qualman, Summer Wood, Brielle Post, Alexander Reynolds, Henry Doggette, Raven Williams, Aku Komlan, Demarcus Walker and David Matias.

Thompson said the military children on Fort Stewart are phenomenal.
"Not only are they children," Thompson said. "But they're military children. They face special challenges and make many sacrifices. I think it is an honor and a privilege to work with them."

The Department of Defense Education Activity, www.dodea.edu, notes military Families face unique challenges compared with their civilian counterparts, such as the average military child moving six to nine times during their school career.

Bell said she wishes they could visit all the students and present them all with prizes. "I love seeing the children's expressions when the prize patrol shows up. They work so hard all year," Bell said. "It's great to see them smile.

Community member can learn more about local school events on the School Liaison Facebook at www.facebook.com/fortstewart.slo.