NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (NNS) -- Sailors assigned to the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) greeted students from Newsome Park Elementary School on their first day back to school as part of an ongoing community relations project to build a stronger relationship with the school Sept. 3.
"The program started about mid-year last year by having Sailors meet and greet the students," Victor Martinez, principal of Newsome Park Elementary School. "Sailors would greet them in the morning, help out during the day in the cafeteria, and even help out with dismissal."
Twelve Sailors were waiting for students when they stepped off buses and greeted them as they walked into the school to start their first day of class.
"Sailors help improve the schools and the community by being a positive role model for the students," said Aviation Ordnanceman 1st Class Datrel Johnson, a Lincoln Sailor who helped coordinate the event.
Newsome Park Elementary School is hoping to expand their outreach program beyond the usual meet and greet by modeling Lincoln's involvement in other schools with mentoring programs, career days and classroom sponsorship where a Sailor could be assigned to a specific classroom and help during a day of the week.
Martinez said that at one point last year, Sailors were at the school every day for at least four weeks positively impacting the lives of the students they interacted with.
"It showed me that the Sailors were becoming part of their lives in a positive sense," said Martinez. "That's when I knew that this program is a really good thing."
Lincoln is currently undergoing a refueling and complex overhaul (RCOH) at Newport News Shipbuilding, a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries.
Lincoln is the fifth ship of the Nimitz-class to undergo a RCOH, a major life-cycle milestone. Once RCOH is complete, Lincoln will be one of the most modern and technologically advanced Nimitz-class aircraft carriers in the fleet and will continue to be a vital part of the nation's defense.
For more news from USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn72/.