FORT KNOX, Ky. — Three seniors stood near the front doors just inside Fort Knox Middle High School April 23, waiting.
Having been hand-selected for the occasion, they quietly talked to each other as vehicles pulled up in the front of the school and stopped. Within a few minutes, Kentucky First Lady Britainy Beshear stood in front of them, armed with several questions about their experiences and plans for the future.
“I’m here because I really want to understand what it’s like to be a child in the military. There’s no better place to go than to the source,” said Beshear. “I also wanted to hear from the kids, and hear what their experience has been like because their experience is so unique to military families.”
Earlier in the day, Beshear flew to Fort Knox from Frankfort, Kentucky, on a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter, landing at the sports field next to the Bluegrass ChalleNGe Academy. While there, she met the students attending classes, along with the cadre and staff.
After visiting Bluegrass, Beshear traveled to Scott Intermediate School.
“In the [intermediate] school on some of the lockers, they have flags; and the students wrote down what it means to them to be a military child on those flags,” said Beshear. “It’s everything from, ‘It’s great! You get to see new places and meet new people,’ to, ‘It’s really hard to move, and it’s stressful when my dad goes on deployment.’
“I love that the kids have the opportunity to be candid about what it feels like.”
Beshear then traveled across the street to Fort Knox Middle High School.
When she entered, Principal Lonnie Gilmore introduced himself and some staff members to her. He then introduced the three students: James Ammons, Kaden Dwyer, and Sachaly Rosario Rivera. Ammons and Dwyer wore their Junior ROTC uniforms.
All three were prepared to lead Beshear on a tour of the campus, but she initially had other plans. She first devoted several minutes getting to know them. Throughout the tour, she stopped and heard more about their experiences in school and plans for their futures.
After the tour, Beshear said the trip opened her eyes up to what military children regularly go through.
“What I found today is that the children on this Army base are resilient, and intelligent, inquisitive and friendly,” said Beshear — “absolutely impressive.”
After leaving FKMHS, Beshear continued her visit by stopping at Kingsolver and Van Voorhis Elementary Schools, before a stop at Barr Memorial Library, where she read a book.
The three high school students said they were surprised by Beshear’s demeanor during the visit.
“She had very thoughtful questions and seemed really interested in us as people, our future and this school and how it was running,” said Rivera.
Ammons said he was impressed with her candor and sincerity.
“When she came in, you could tell that she wanted to be here; that she was actually interested in us,” said Ammons. “She was asking questions beyond what may sound scripted.”
Rivera said she was pleased for the opportunity to have met Beshear.
“I felt incredibly honored to be asked to give her a tour and that she even came here,” said Rivera. “She was really friendly, and it was easy to talk to her. I would love to be able to meet her again.”
Dwyer noted how willing she was to open up to them about her own personal experiences as a student.
“That was really nice of her, and it definitely makes it a lot easier because all of us have had a hard year being in and out of school,” said Dwyer.
Beshear said she plans to bring what she learned during the visit back to Frankfort for future ideas and plans.
“This makes me really proud to have met these kids,” said Beshear, “and to know how brave and strong they are.”