PANSACOLA, Fla. (NNS) -- Over 50 students from Myrtle Grove Elementary School graduated from Saturday Scholars in a ceremony held at Myrtle Grove Elementary School, March 10.
Information Warfare Training Command (IWTC) Corry Station staff and students continued a long tradition of partnering with the Escambia County School District (ECSD), and volunteer mentors spent five Saturday mornings mentoring students in several core subjects, including math, reading and computer science.
They also had an opportunity to participate in fun physical fitness activities and a trip to the National Naval Aviation Museum. Overall, each student received a total of 24 hours of one-on-one mentoring that totaled over 1,200 volunteer hours from IWTC Corry Station's staff and students.
The program, in its 33rd year with a command from Naval Air Station Pensacola Corry Station, supports a session at a different school each spring and fall, with this spring marking the 65th session.
During the ceremony, Chief Information Systems Technician Bill Kelley, IWTC Corry Station's Saturday Scholars coordinator, and Cmdr. Chad Smith, commanding officer of IWTC Corry Station, welcomed everyone; thanked the students, parents, teachers and school district officials for the wonderful volunteer opportunity; and thanked their mentors for giving back to the community.
"It is truly amazing to witness the positive relationships formed throughout this wonderful program," said Smith. "We are grateful to have this opportunity to give back to the community, and we look forward to building upon our partnership for many years to come."
Representatives from ECSD also attended the graduation ceremony and thanked the staff and student volunteer mentors. They included ECSD Superintendent of Schools Malcom Thomas; Principal Robin Maloy of Myrtle Grove Elementary School; and Jo McArthur, ECSD community involvement coordinator.
"This is the longest running Saturday Scholars program in the country," said Thomas. "Corry Station's participation with Saturday Scholars has touched the hearts and minds of thousands of students over the years."
Maloy also thanked everyone for their hard work and dedication during the ceremony.
"We are so appreciative of the Corry Station military men and women who chose to participate in the Saturday Scholars program at Myrtle Grove Elementary School," said Maloy. "They have provided much needed support and encouragement to our students, and the bond formed between the mentors and students is very evident when you watch them in action. Our students now have an understanding that there are many people in the community who are invested in their learning."
For the mentors, the experience was a new opportunity to reconnect with a younger generation and make a difference in a child's life. For Seaman Recruit Carlos Lozada, the time spent with his student helped him appreciate the impact of such a great program.
"Be it academically or emotionally, the impact of this program on the students is immeasurable," said Lozada. "This program also offers a great deal to the volunteers too. We learned as much or more from the students as they did from us."
Ann Pierce, a fourth-grade teacher at Myrtle Grove Elementary School shared, "It has been amazing to see how many young military men and women have volunteered to give up their free time on a Saturday to come and spend time with our students as mentors and new friends. Over the past five weeks, I have watched our students make new friends and be excited about coming to school on a Saturday."
Near the end of the ceremony, Chief Information Systems Technician Keith Harris called Aiden Motley, a fifth grade student, to the stage. Harris recognized Motley for his leadership and competitive spirit during the program by presenting him a command coin and a chief petty officer anchor.
"Aiden embodies qualities of a true leader, possesses great determination and gets things done - just like a Navy chief," said Harris. "We hope one day you join the Navy and join the ranks of chief petty officers."
"This recognition means a lot to me and I am honored to receive it," said Motley. "I do hope to become a chief petty officer in the Navy one day, and that would make me very happy."
Saturday Scholars is an example of the Navy's Personal Excellence Partnership Program, which strives for excellence in developing the youth of surrounding communities by promoting academic achievement, healthy lifestyles, and civic responsibility.
Information Warfare Training Command Corry Station, as part of the Center for Information Warfare Training, provides a continuum of training to Navy and joint service personnel that prepares them to conduct information warfare across the full spectrum of military operations.
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