Five students from across the country had the chance to ask Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey and his wife, Deanie, questions during the 17th Military Child Education Coalition National Training Seminar here today.
The blend of military and non-military high school-aged children were excited to ask the general questions ranging from topics on his success to mentorship to education.
Meeting the Chairman
“It was amazing how personable he was,” said Katelyn Jensen, 16, from Falcon, Colorado. “He makes you feel so comfortable and at home, like he’s your uncle. It was really fun to talk to him.”
For Hunter Hughes, 15, from Falcon, Colorado, meeting the chairman was a dream come true.
“It was incredibly humbling because I get to see his picture all the time in my [junior ROTC] class and being able to meet him was an incredible experience. He was awesome to speak to,” Hughes said.
Hughes said he has known since he was four years old that he wants to go to the Air Force Academy and speaking to the chairman reinforces his goal.
For Sara Lippert, 17, from Dupont, Washington, meeting the chairman was special because her dad, an Army colonel, looks up to the chairman.
“I know my dad is probably jealous,” she joked. “My parents are happy that I’m having so many cool experiences as a military child and that I got to meet somebody my dad looks up to. It was extremely gratifying. It was really special for me.”
Student 2 Student
The five students were chosen because of their involvement with the Military Child Education Coalition Student 2 Student program. The program is a student-led organization that welcomes incoming students to new schools and helps departing students prepare for their next school. The average military-connected student moves six to nine times between kindergarten and high school. Students faced with frequent moves must constantly integrate into a new educational system, a new community and find new friends.
“We help new and transitioning students come into the school -- mainly military students because they move around so much,” Hughes said. “We help them come into the school, show them around and just be their friend and be there for them as much as they need until they’re ready to come into their own at the school.”
“When I first moved to Texas, I didn't know anybody and then S2S came in and they showed me around and I had lunch with them. It was really fun and it helped me get into the school and get into a routine,” said Raul Rosales IV, whose father is an Air Force master sergeant.
“I’ve moved eight times, and my current school was the first time I’d ever seen the program,” Lippert said. “I was like, ‘What is this program? It’s incredible.’ ... I had never had an experience of being so welcomed into a school community.”
She added, “So I definitely go onto it as soon as I found out what it is, and I’ve been getting nothing but support and I’ve had nothing but good experiences and it’s an amazing, amazing program that I wish could be in every school and I hope someday will.”
Marislynn Turnmeyer, 17, from Panama City, Florida, volunteered to help with Student 2 Student because her mom was a school liaison.
Jensen said she overheard about the program in the counseling office. All of the students said they appreciated being in blended high schools and appreciated both the roles of military and civilian student life styles.
Lippert encourages high school students, especially military children, to learn more about the Student 2 Student program and to get involved. More information is available at the Student 2 Student website: http://www.militarychild.org/parents-and-students/programs/student-2-student.
“Take any opportunity you can by the horns,” Lippert said.
“Like the chairman said, all doors are open and only you have the power to close them,” Turnmeyer said.