A hero’s welcome: NCS students greet returning National Guardswoman

Published 6:24 am Friday, October 14, 2016

National Guardswoman Sarah Reid got a warm welcome home on Wednesday thanks, in part, to a roomful of first graders.

Northshore Charter Elementary School teacher Melissa Kennedy has, for years, used local military personnel as living lessons in civics, geography and current events in her classes.

“I’ve been doing this five or six years,” Kennedy said. “It started when I was a teacher at Wesley Ray and I’ve continued it here.”

Kennedy said she picks a different person each year for her class, and her students will exchange letters, ask questions and develop a relationship with the service member.

“We write them letters and draw them pictures,” explained Kennedy.

This year Reid, a Franklinton High School graduate, was the subject of Kennedy’s students and on Wednesday she came home, meeting the students for the first time.

“This year we talked about where she was and what it was like when she was at AIT,” she said.

AIT is advanced institutional training, and Reid went through that coursework at Fort Lee in Virginia. Kennedy said by writing to Reid, her students learned about Virginia and what it means to serve the country.

“We talked about why we salute the flag and how when we respect our flag we are respecting people like Sarah who serve the country,” Kennedy said. “I milked it for everything it was worth. I really did, even down to how does a soldier stand in line.”

When Reid arrived, Kennedy embraced her, presented her with some gifts including a Northshore Charter School T-shirt, and Reid sat to take questions from her young fan club.

She was asked about hair regulations, shooting guns and whether she’d shot anyone (she has not) and then a student asked if she had fun.

“I did have fun, actually,” Reid said. “It was a way for me to challenge myself and to be better than I was.”