Social celebrates Adopt-A-School partnerships
FORT CARSON, Colo. -- Capt. Brett Kelley, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, receives the outstanding Soldier award from Suzi Bach, wife of Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach, during the Adopt-A-School social March 8 at the Elkhorn Confer... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT CARSON, Colo. -- Fort Carson and community leaders recognized achievements within the Adopt-A-School program during a social March 8 at the Elkhorn Conference Center.

The Adopt-A-School program partners units and local schools on and off post to provide mentoring and tutoring to students. The social provided the schools and units a chance to connect outside of the school setting.

"Today gives us the opportunity to say thanks for all you do, what educators do and what our team does in partnership with the community to make things better for our kids," said Col. Robert F. McLaughlin, garrison commander.

The program has grown to include 37 units who are partnered with 35 schools. Partnerships include schools throughout the Pikes Peak region within 50 miles of Fort Carson.

"This is a volunteer relationship where Soldiers can give back to the community," said Stephanie Gillotte, school liaison officer for District 8. "The Soldiers are inspired and the schools really appreciate the support."

During the social, a few Soldiers and school representatives shared stories of the impact this program has on the students.

Soldiers expressed joy in working with the children, and the school representatives explained the need for strong and committed individuals to believe in their students and to serve as positive role models.

"Our youth is our nation's future," said Maj. Gen. Joseph Anderson, commanding general, 4th Infantry Division and Fort Carson. "I see the positive impact the Soldiers have on our children … (and the) impact on our Soldiers … it's a win-win situation."

Anderson, 4th Inf. Div. and Fort Carson Command Sgt. Maj. Brian Stall and Suzi Bach, wife of Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach, presented four awards to a few units and schools for their dedication to the Adopt-A-School program.

Soldiers of Rear Detachment 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Inf. Div., received the top hours award for volunteering more than 2,000 hours since November at their partnered school, Mesa Elementary School.

The outstanding Soldier award went to Capt. Brett Kelley, 4th BCT, 4th Inf. Div., for his work with Wildflower Elementary School. Kelley was recognized for creating two programs with his former unit, Company K, 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th BCT, 4th Inf. Div. This unit also won the outstanding project award.

Kelley created a program where Soldiers tutor students weekly in reading and math. He also developed the Pen Pals for Wildcats program, and the Soldiers made a commitment to correspond with the students until they graduate from high school.

Soldiers of 230th Finance Company, 43rd Special Troops Battalion, 43rd Sustainment Brigade, received an outstanding unit and school partnership award for their strong reciprocal relationship with Venetucci Elementary School.

After the awards were presented, the units and schools had time to collaborate on plans to improve their partnerships.

"The Adopt-A-School program is important because it enhances the partnerships we have here in town and ensures our children the opportunity to succeed," Anderson said. "It gives our Soldiers the opportunity to give back to the community … we are Colorado Springs ... that's where we give back."