Amid the songs, cheers and thanks of student ambassadors, the U.S. Army Environmental Command (USAEC) recently renewed its Adopt-A-School partnership with the Fort Sam Houston Elementary School (FSHES) at a signing ceremony held at the school.

In an event presided over by FSHES Principal Tonya Hyde, Dr. Gail Siller, Superintendent of the Fort Sam Houston Independent School District joined USAEC Commander, Col. Mark A. Lee in signing a special poster-sized agreement featuring photos of past Adopt-a-School activities. With the signing, USAEC volunteers agreed to continue sharing knowledge of the environmental sciences, professional career paths and a genuine love of lifelong discovery with FSHES students and faculty.

"AEC team members love to participate and interact with the students," Lee said. "Everyone benefits. Our folks are doctors and scientists excited about learning. They want to inspire young students to learn."

Lee told the students he comes from a long line of teachers and once considered becoming a chemistry teacher before pursing his career in the Army. He said they still might have a Mr. Lee teaching their chemistry class one day.

"There is fantastic work that goes on in this school and the students are the ones that benefit. Thanks, Ms. Hyde for helping military kids learn and letting our organization partner with the school," Lee said. We want to be full partners and are excited about helping at events throughout the coming school year, and again helping students to learn and experience new concepts and ideas."

Dr. Siller expressed her appreciation to USAEC for readopting the elementary school and for continued actions that enrich the lives of students. "We all look forward to the coming year," she said.

"I thank you for supporting our school and military children," Dr. Siller said to Col. Lee and the other USAEC representatives. "This partnership will help students to become more effective and involved with the end result being better informed and more involved American citizens."

To the students, she said, "AEC can help you with choices of special careers. If there is something special you want to know about, tell us, because there are people at AEC who are willing to help."

Some of the events at which USAEC volunteers helped last year were recapped in a slide show, highlighting the previous school years' Adopt-a-School events, presented by Principal Hyde.

"We enjoyed putting together this presentation of past performances and taking a look toward the future," Hyde said. "It is amazing to see what a full year of activities we had. This represents over 300 volunteer hours of AEC working with our students."

The signing event was attended by representatives from the school board, the Parent Teacher Organization and USAEC, as well as parents and "most importantly our student ambassadors…two from each grade were hand selected and represent all of our 876 Fort Sam Houston Elementary School students," Hyde said.

USAEC, which officially adopted FSHES in September 2011, participated in FSHES activities such as the fifth grade Science in Action Day, Read Across America honoring Dr. Seuss' birthday, an Earth Day environmental fair, holiday events, mentoring and graduation ceremonies. The partnership signing renews the USAEC - FSHES relationship for the 2012- 2013 school year.

The Fort Sam Houston Adopt-a-School pilot program was initiated in 2010 by Commanding General, U.S. Army North, and contributes military resources and services to schools (elementary, middle, and high) to nurture the intellectual, emotional, social, and physical growth of children in the greater Fort Sam Houston area, while increasing public awareness of the Army's mission and fostering good relations.