NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (NNS) -- As part of the ship's efforts to serve as Navy ambassadors for the local community, USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) Sailors adopted two Hampton Roads area schools in January.
Carl Vinson Sailors agreed in the fall of 2005 to make regular visits to Hines and Gildersleeve middle schools as an ongoing community relations project to positively impact growing minds. The relationship between the two middle schools and Carl Vinson grew over time, until the volunteer effort transformed into an adoption agreement.
"We have a wonderful relationship with these schools," said Religious Program Specialist 1st Class (SW) Kathleen Matthews, chaplain department leading petty officer. "Our Sailors enjoy spending time with the students so much that we decided to make it more official."
At least four times a month, Carl Vinson Sailors visit the schools and carry out various tasks with the students and teachers.
"Sailors talk to the students, answer their questions, and assist the teachers in anything they need, including work like grading papers," said Matthews.
Crew members also mentor the students, provide them with one-on-one tutoring, and act as chaperones on school field trips.
The crew's dedication to the adopted schools and other community relations projects has earned Carl Vinson the Hampton Roads Navy Volunteer Award. The ship has also won three of the five Navy community relations awards for large platform ships since its relocation to Virginia in 2005.
"It's an amazing thing for the kids to see Sailors in uniform, who are serving our country and fighting our nation's wars, take time out of their day to spend it with these students," said Lt. Shane Dillman, a chaplain aboard Carl Vinson and the community relations coordinator.
The schools also take into account the busy schedules of the Sailors participating in the program.
"The schools are very committed to helping us work around our schedules," said Dillman. "It's a very good partnership."
For Carl Vinson Sailors, this partnership has enabled many crew members to share their time and become positive role models for the community.
"These Sailors are not just volunteers to us," said Benjamin Hogan, Hines Middle School principal. "They exceed our expectations and meet our needs as much as possible. Most volunteer groups don't do that."
Carl Vinson is currently undergoing its scheduled refueling complex overhaul (RCOH) at Northrop Grumman Newport News shipyard. The RCOH is an extensive yard period that all Nimitz-class aircraft carriers go through near the midpoint of their 50-year life cycle.
During RCOH Carl Vinson's nuclear fuel will be replenished and the ship's services and infrastructure will be upgraded to make her the most state-of-the-art aircraft carrier in the fleet, and prepare for another 25 years or more of service.
For more news from USS Carl Vinson, visit www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn70/.