By Sgt. 1st Class Kelvin RingoldOctober 12, 2019
BELTON, Texas - As the season changes to fall and a new academic year begins, schools depend on support from the community to make each new year successful for the students and faculty. Giving back to the community is always a priority for the Army, III Corps and the 13th ESC, and the Adopt-a-School program is a major part of that effort.
Soldiers from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 13th Expeditionary Sustainment Command continued their support of Lakewood Elementary School during their annual Fall Friendzee Festival Oct. 11.
The excitement and anticipation were especially high this year as Lakewood Elementary celebrated their 30th Fall Friendzee Festival and its 30-year history of success and memories of festivals from days gone by.
Maj. Monique Capri Jones, 13th ESC, volunteered to be one of the school liaisons and it is an opportunity she always looks forward to capitalizing on.
"It's something personal for me," Jones said. "I love having the opportunity to give back to the youth and share whatever wisdom I can. Being a mentor is something I am passionate about, and it makes being involved that much more enjoyable."
Assistant principal Jessica Costine was a student at Lakewood Elementary, a teacher here for two years and has been the AP for three years. Costine knows more than most what this day means for the students and community.
"It's an important time for the students and community members to get together," Costine said. "Some of the events like the dunking booth and pie-in-the-face are a favorite every year."
Some of the activities during the festival were the dunk tank, soda bottle toss, climbing wall, dance floor, remote control car race and inflatable slide. With numerous other activities for those in attendance to enjoy, students and parents were kept in a constant state of bliss.
New Jersey native and 13th ESC's Spc. Darris Robinson was one of the Soldiers that assisted during the festival. Even though it was a training holiday for most Soldiers, he didn't hesitate to volunteer his time.
"I wanted to take this opportunity to come out and help the students," Robinson said. "It's also good to come out and see the community around us."
Fall Friendzee chairperson Angi Johnson has headed the event for the last six years, but has been involved with the festival for the last 10 since her children have been students at the school.
The last of her students will leave Lakewood Elementary School after the school year, so this will be her final festival. Looking back on what the festival has meant all these years brought a smile to her face.
"The students always look forward to the festival once the school year begins, and look forward to the following year once it's done," Johnson said.
The weather had been unpredictable all day, but the chance of rain did not stop the event from being a success, and Johnson was not surprised by the large crowd that attended.
"Given the weather it feels great there was such a large turnout," Johnson said. "The attendance speaks volumes for our surrounding community. The parents, students, athletes, Soldiers and community members are always so helpful and we appreciate everyone's support."