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Sailors Meet Students: GW Volunteers For Birthday

Sailors Meet Students: GW Volunteers For Birthday

Story by SN Tatyana Freeman on 02/25/2019

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – (Feb. 19, 2019) The celebration of George Washington’s birthday was not confined to just a ceremony at Mount Vernon on Presidents Day or the USS George Washington Birthday Ball Feb. 22.
Sailors assigned to the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) also celebrated the birthday of the first president by visiting local elementary school students in the Newport News area and going classroom to classroom reading about the history of George Washington to kindergarten and first-grade students.
“I love giving back to the community and seeing children learn,” said Aviation Ordnanceman Airman Christopher Carpenter of Huntington, Delaware, and a lagging team member assigned to George Washington’s weaons department.
Sailors visited Richneck Elementary School Feb. 19 and Greenwood Elementary School Feb. 20, stopping in each kindergarten and first-grade classroom to read the book I am George Washington by Brad Meltzer and then handed out crayons and coloring books created by George Washington’s media department.
“Knowing how much the [executive officer] loves George Washington and wanting to partner something with the George Washington birthday ball, we put our heads together and came up with the best opportunity to use some of those funds to give back to the community,” said Lt. j.g. Chandler Whitman from Memphis, Tennessee, one of George Washington’s chaplains.
Students were encouraged to ask questions and interact with Sailors during the reading of the book.
“It’s interesting seeing little kids’ perspective of things,” said Information Systems Technician 3rd Class Michael Skibicki from Greenville, South Carolina, a message center operator assigned to George Washington’s combat systems department.
Students also had the opportunity to sit with and talk to Sailors while they colored their new coloring books.
“Their smiles were the best part,” said Carpenter.
The students of both elementary schools were enthusiastic to listen to the story about their first president and to listen to the Sailors talk, often clamoring around the Sailor reading and inquiring about certain passages read.
“For the students, it shows them that people that work in this community also care about them and want to take time out of their day to do this,” said Whitman.
Sailors also received the opportunity to sign the books they read to each class.
“I would do this again,” said Skibicki. “I think anyone coming to talk to [these students] helps.”
Some Sailors enjoyed spending time with students so much that they stayed with some of the classes and ate lunch with them.
“Interacting with adults, especially people that serve the country they appreciate that,” said Religious Program Specialist 3rd Class Jenny Williams from Trenton, New Jersey, the community relations coordinator for George Washington.
George Washington Sailors visited 20 classrooms between the two elementary schools.
“Today was awesome, just to see them smile when you walk in and out of the room,” said Williams.
George Washington was born Feb. 22, 1732 in Virginia, and went on to become the commander of the Continental Army, first president of the United States, and among many other accomplishments, the namesake of USS George Washington. Every year, Sailors assigned to his namesake ship honor him by participating in community service projects, visiting his home and final resting site in Mount Vernon, and learning more of George Washington’s history. The United States observes George Washington’s birthday by celebrating Presidents Day, which became a national holiday in 1971.
“For our Sailors, while we are in [refueling complex overhaul], finding things to better themselves pairs with the [commanding officer’s] training,” said Whitman. “Training is not just getting better in our rates or in our jobs. It’s about making ourselves better people holistically when we can serve our community.”

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