By 2nd Lt. Nick Onyango, 44th Expeditionary Signal BattalionNovember 9, 2012
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany -- Oct. 25 officially marked the first day of the new partnership between Grafenwoehr Elementary School and the 44th Expeditionary Signal Battalion. The school invited the unit to launch this partnership at its monthly STAR Assembly event, during which they recognize and reward good behavior among the students.
The 44th Expeditionary Signal Battalion recently relocated to Grafenwoehr from Schweinfurt and was elated to learn of the partnership. Command Sgt. Maj. Charlie Bryant represented the unit and recognized two students for Most Improved Behavior.
The students, Norelle Doyle and Rachel Owens, each received a certificate signed by the Battalion Commander, Lt. Col. Robert Fago, and the command sergeant major, as well as a pin with the battalion crest.
The crest includes the battalion motto "Outstanding." According to Dr. Matthew Kralevich, the school principal, the little girl who received the award "was so excited she couldn't sit down the rest of the assembly."
In his message to the teachers, parents and students of Grafenwoehr Elementary School, Bryant expressed the unit's desire to work closely with the school community to plan fun, meaningful events in the future. The sergeant major also told students these events would be aimed at building their education while promoting the importance of the Army values, which will help build well-rounded students and citizens.
Kralevich equally expressed optimism that the partnership will reinforce academic concepts while promoting Army values through events that actively engage students and Soldiers.
The principal believes his students will welcome fresh ideas and actively participate when they see the relevance to their daily life. He expressed confidence that the two partners would find more areas for growth and opportunities to plan for meaningful events.
Over the next several months, 44th Expeditionary Signal Battalion Soldiers will volunteer in programs with over 300 students at Grafenwoehr Elementary School. Among the volunteer participants at the recent event were five Soldiers from the 44th ESB who had already started some volunteer work at the school.
Some shared their reasons for volunteering. Pfc. Thomas Taylor of Bravo Company, a father himself of a 7-year-old boy, says he "volunteered for the reading sessions in order to do something positive for the kids and to give back to the community."
Another volunteer, Sgt. Kareem Abiose, also of Bravo Company, said he is "driven to volunteer for the kids because they are our future."
Two other Bravo Soldiers, Spc. Patrick Chavez and Pfc. Emily Fisher also spoke enthusiastically about their desire to volunteer for the children's sake.
The school has scheduled future STAR Assembly dates, during which it will not only welcome but look forward to the participation of the 44th Expeditionary Signal Battalion. Both partners are excited about the prospects of a strong and sustainable partnership.
According to Kralevich, Grafenwoehr Elementary School is committed to showing its new partners the appreciation they deserve that only an elementary school can demonstrate.
He hopes that his students "will be treated with memories that will last a lifetime as a result of the partnership."
"(Together) we can achieve magic as our students build strength in both academics and character," he said.