Soldiers join CCISD students for Ranger Reading Camp
By BRITTANY FHOLER
Soldiers from the 1st Cavalry Division, shared details about what they do in the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade and encouraged students to stay in school during several 30-minute sessions held at Williams/Ledger Elementary School as part of the Copperas Cove Independent School District’s annual Ranger Reading Camp.
The theme this year focuses on wflight, and activities covered space, aircrafts and more.
SPC Delia Jimenez and SPC Erika Taylor shared about their work as intel analysts while Warrant Officer 4 Mark Kisinger and Warrant Officer 4 Isaac VanMeter shared about piloting Apache helicopters.
“In the Army, we all work together to complete a mission,” Jimenez said. “It’s called teamwork.”
As Apache pilots, Kisinger said he and VanMeter help with finding and deterring the enemy.
“We go look for the bad guys, and with gentle persuasion, we tell them to not be there anymore,” Kisinger said, also sharing about the importance of studying.
“It takes everybody in the Army to make things like this happen, so it doesn’t matter what job you want to do. Some jobs look cool, but we study,” Kisinger said.
Students could try on a Cavalry Stetson, which is something every Cavalry soldier owns.
“It’s a big point of pride, so to wear our hats means you’re a Cav soldier,” VanMeter said.
After the kids finished trying on the hat, VanMeter stressed the importance of teamwork and school.
“The reason we’re here today is to encourage y’all to do well in school,” VanMeter said. “It doesn’t matter what you want to be when you grow up…The main thing to take away is that you have to be a good team member no matter what you do.”
Kisinger shared that 1st Cav Division soldiers help during natural disasters, like Hurricane Harvey back in 2017.
“We’re not here to tell you to join the Army,” Kisinger said. “What we’re telling you to do is study and take school serious because school is the key to unlock anything.”
The camp is funded by a $1.5 million Department of Defense Education Activity grant issued in 2016 for a five-year period, according to Heather Peacock, the DoDEA II Grant Project Director.
The purpose of the program is to help with the “Summer Slide”, where kids lose reading skills. Some kids lose about two months’ worth of skills while others can lose up to six months’ worth of skills, “because they don’t engage in educational activities at home,” Peacock said. “By these kids coming back for three weeks and getting reading instruction, it does keep their reading skills up and it does help their test scores.”
Peacock said that the program only tracks military students due to the nature of the grant, with approximately 200 students attending who fall into three categories, military connected children, children whose teachers recommended them because they need to catch up on their reading skills, and children who were determined to have a need- whether it is needing something positive in their lives, needing books, or needing meals.
“It’s not only for literacy support at two of the elementary schools, but it’s also social/emotional support at four of our elementaries and two of our junior highs,” Peacock said.
Yusufa Williams and Alvalie Kawaha, both 10-years-old and entering 5th grade shared what their favorite parts of Wednesday morning were.
Williams said he enjoyed getting to see people in the Army that are like his dad, who recently deployed to South Korea. Kawaha said she liked having the soldiers share what they do. She said she knew most of the information because her stepdad is in the Army. When asked about her favorite thing about the Ranger Reading Camp overall, Kawaha said she really liked all the different activities and that they get to learn a lot. Williams said he loved the field trips the most.
This year, with the theme of Flight, students are exploring the career of flight at the Killeen Airport this morning and will be going to the Mayborn Science Theater next Tuesday and Wednesday to see movies on space and astronauts.