The White Sands Missile Range community came together during the 22nd annual First Day of School Holiday Aug. 3 at the Sgt. Pedro Field to welcome White Sands School students to a new school year.
Teachers, administrators and several Family and Morale Welfare and Recreation organizations were on hand to welcome White Sands School students and their parents.
White Sands Missile Range Garrison Commander Col. Ryan Howell welcomed the community to the annual event.
“It is a unique time for all of us,” Howell said. “Look at the amazing partnership we have here with this community and White Sands School. It is really humbling to see this group of people and this team gathered here. It is a reflection of everyone in this community.”
“We are blessed to have the White Sands School team here to make sure our future remains bright and hopeful for the amazing education provided to our children.”
Following the opening ceremony students and parents were encouraged to visit all the vendors and sponsor tables, where students picked up free backpacks and school supplies provided thanks to in-kind contributions from several sponsors to include: Navy Federal Credit Union, USAA, the Commissary, Staybridge Suites, Aprendamos Intervention Team, Sonoma Family Dental, White Sands Homes, IHG Army Hotels, Girl Scouts and Cub Scouts.
Parent Josh Arrey, who has two children attending White Sands School, a 1st grader and 5th grader, said the event was great. “It was very well organized, there was a good turnout and there were a lot of sponsors. I think it is great what this community does for the kids,” he said.
Kim Arrey, School Liaison Officer with Child and Youth Services, and one of the organizers, welcomed everyone to the event.
“The First Day of School Holiday is important because it brings the community together to support White Sands School prior to the new year beginning,” she said.
Parent Jessica Aguirre said her family came to the event so that her 2nd grade son could meet his new teacher and to get information for the new school year.
“Last year we did school virtually, so we want to find out what will be different this year.” She said events like the FDOSH are very helpful, especially since they give out school supplies and the kids are able to interact with their teachers.
“I just love how they set everything up and everyone is very friendly and we get as much information as possible for the new school year.”
Reina Marquez, Outreach Services Director for Child and Youth Services, and one of the event organizers, said that after the year we had with COVID-19 kids get to come back to in person learning and the FDOSH offers them an opportunity to meet their teachers and stock up on school supplies. “Parents get a chance to see what community support is available.”
Representing at the event was the White Sands Missile Range joint color guard, Family and Morale Welfare and Recreation, Child and Youth Services, Business and Recreation, and Army Community Services. Also present was the Frontier Club, Environmental, the WSMR Fire Department, WSMR Post Chapel, McAfee U.S. Army Health Clinic, and Army Substance Abuse.
Parent Joan Dunham, a first time attendee who just arrived at WSMR, said the event was very interesting. “This is a completely new experience for me and I am eager to see what is out here.”
White Sands School Principal James Dickerson said the First Day of School Holiday brings us all together as one community. “We highly value our partnership with White Sands Missile Range.”
He said the White Sands School staff is looking forward to working collaboratively with all the White Sands community to assist each student in maximizing their potential and achievement. “We are committed as a staff to providing each child a safe and positive learning environment.”
Assistant Superintendent of Leadership with the Las Cruces Public Schools Heather Kingery expressed her appreciation from the Las Cruces Public Schools. “We’ve been faced with challenges that we never thought we would have to encounter. Our nation and our world continues to fight those challenges even today. As we stand here today, it is such an honor to stand with you to embark on another school year,” she said.
“Thank you to those of you who serve, who put on a uniform proudly every day to help us and protect us. But also thank you to your families who also give so much of themselves.”