By Shandi DixJune 19, 2010
FORT RILEY, Kan. - Shannon Heintz, biology teacher, Abilene High School, got to see firsthand what an Army tank driver sees from the seat of a tank simulator June 10.
Heintz along with more than 80 school officials had the opportunity to play Soldier for a day when they visited Fort Riley for the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation; and Child, Youth and School Services Day in the Life of a Soldier.
"(I) came to learn about kids in our classroom that have Soldiers as parents," Heintz said. "It was a nice way to see what their parents do - a little peek at what their lives are like."
The event has been held on a yearly basis for the past two years to inform school personnel about Fort Riley and training required of Soldiers as well as educational programs and services specific to Families through Army Community Service and CYSS.
"A Day in the Life of a Soldier (allowed) school district personnel to gain knowledge about Soldiers, their responsibilities and the skills necessary to be Army strong," said Sonya Douglas, program operations specialist, CYSS.
During their visit, participants were able to get a Soldier's perspective at the Virtual Battle Space and Engagement Skills training centers. They also took part in a windshield tour of the historical Main Post and participated in a walk-through tour of CYSS and School Age Services. Following lunch at the Devil's Den dining facility, school officials asked community representatives various questions during a question-and-answer session at Riley's Conference Center.
"The event went well and the participants enjoyed themselves," Douglas said. "Only one participant attended last year, and, in his opinion, the event was very well organized. He just wanted more hands-on Soldier stuff."
The incorporation of the training centers into this year's visit helped accomplish that goal.
Participants represented various schools in the 17 counties surrounding Fort Riley known as the Central Flint Hills Region. They included Unified School District 475 Geary County, USD 383 Manhattan/Ogden, USD 320 Wamego, USD 435 Abilene, USD 379 Clay County, USD 487 Herington, Manhattan Catholic Schools, USD 397 Centre and USD 378 Riley County. Representatives from Kansas State University also took part in the event.
The event was organized by school liaison officers Sandy Johnson, Wynnie Wahlfeldt and Erin Sullivan.