Students at Bonsack Elementary School celebrated Veterans Day with a new twist on old traditions—a Bonsack Bootcamp. Music teacher Katie Saunders and P. E. teacher Dustin King came up with a new concept for the special day—a “fun station experience with hands-on learning.”
Students in grades K-5 spent their Encore period rotating through six stations:
- A Basic Training Obstacle Course where students did the Army Crawl under a parachute and through a “mud pit,” climbed a rock wall, and hopped and jumped through various other obstacles
- On Target where students launched objects at targets
- The Navy SEAL Training STEAM project in which students worked in groups to build a boat, navigate it across the gym “river,” build a hula shelter and “fake fire.”
- The Military History Museum uniform display where Army Captain Tim Alexander answered questions about military life and apparel. Captain Alexander served in the Army from 1992-1999 and was deployed to Haiti, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia. The captain has a son, Ethan, who is a student at William Byrd Middle School, and a daughter, Addie, in fourth grade at Bonsack. Alexander explained patches on his uniform that indicate he served in an Airborne Division and bars that show his rank.
- The Meet a Veteran Panel where students met veteran Captain Alexander and Colonel Donald Clary who answered questions about why they entered the military, special people they had met, why Veterans Day is so important, the worst foods they had eaten in the military, boot camp experiences, and how serving in the Armed Services affected their lives. Colonel Clary served in the U.S. Army from the late 1960’s through 2000, with the majority of his time spent stationed in Virginia. He was an ROTC cadet at Virginia Tech. He described boot camp as a time to learn teamwork and to learn to follow the rules through rigorous training. One special memory was meeting Governor George Allen on an assignment as Commander of Fort Pickett.
- The Thank you card station where students decorated cards to be delivered by Saunders to the VA Hospital and Veterans Care Center—with approximately 400 cards made.
The entrance to the school was also decorated with stars made by students to honor members of their families who have served in the military—a Wall of Honor.