By Alexandra SheaOctober 18, 2019
Fort Jackson's Family housing was a scene of chaotic fun Oct. 15 as Military Police cars escorted a caravan of decorated vans, trucks and sedans honking horns through housing. Families lined the sidewalks, peered through windows and doorways to see what all the buzz was about. The C.C. Pinckney Math Prize Patrol was making their way to meet this year's winners.
"This is an outstanding opportunity to recognize all the kids' hard work and effort they are putting in to develop their math skills," said Fort Jackson Garrison Commander Col. John "Wes" Hankins. "I think it's just as much fun for the faculty as it is for the kids."
Hankins, along with Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Anthony J. Wilson, drove a Humvee covered in Army graphics to help deliver bags and boxes filled with prizes to the winners and their Families.
The annual event is unique to Fort Jackson. Each year school age children are offered an opportunity to have their parents sign a pledge form stating they will be a Family that solves math problems together. Each pledge sheet is then entered into a drawing where names are picked randomly. No names are announced after the drawing, Families have to wait to see if the caravan of flashing lights and honking horns stops at their door.
"We have all new neighbors this year and we told them about the Prize Patrol," said Pamela Webb, mother of Adalynn Webb who won a prize.
"They were shocked the community did this, they had never heard of this before anywhere else."
Adalynn, along with seven other Families, were awarded prizes this year. Each gift bag or box contained a variety of family board games, t-shirts, art supplies, puzzle books and more. One prize winner, Tristan Jenkins, was excited to see his bag as he loudly announcing "I got Hot Wheels."
"I am always proud of him," said Staff Sgt. Timothy Jenkins, a drill sergeant with Company E, 120th Adjutant General Battalion and father to Tristan, about how proud he is of his son's math skills and winning a prize.
The Jenkins Family said they often have Family game nights and will add the games their son won to the collection to be played.
"Fort Jackson is the home of the original Prize Patrol event," said Kerrie Ammons, a speech pathologist at C.C. Pinckney. "Totally the most amount of fun ever. We value learning, math and problem solvers."
Ammons said this is the seventh year the school has hosted the event.
The annual event has become a staple for students and faculty. More than 30 staff members, along with Ammons, rode in the caravan and rushed to the winning Families to present the prizes. The staff wore bright red shirts and carries some variety of noise maker such as whistles, drums or megaphones to congratulate the winners.
At each stop, a large banner was spread behind the winner and their Family members as the prizes were presented and photos were taken. Hankins and Wilson also congratulated the winners and shook hands with the proud parents.
The Math Prize Patrol is anticipated to make a return for the 2020 school year alongside other staple events such as Science, Technology, Engineering and Math week (STEM), living history event, annual spelling bee and Purple Day.