USS Newport News Sailors Volunteer at Local Elementary

USS Newport News Sailors Volunteer at Local Elementary

Twenty-eight submariners from the Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine USS Newport News (SSN 750) volunteered at a local elementary in their name-sake city May 3.

The field-day event, which consisted of several competitive recreational activities at Jenkins Elementary, is held every year at the end of the school year.

The event gave the children a chance to exert some energy and participate in a variety of activities including tug-a-war, obstacle courses and bean-bag racing.

Each year, parents and other volunteers from around the city help operate the different activity stations.

“The kids really get to get out and play different games,” said Danielle Ganze, a teacher at Jenkins Elementary school whose husband is also a service member. “The teachers man a station and then we have some volunteers that get to come out and really interact with the kids.”

“They came to us needing volunteers,” said Senior Chief Electronics Technician Ronald Herman, Newport News chief of the boat, “and we were more than happy to oblige.”

What had begun as an overcast morning cleared to a warm and sunny day as students took to the field outside of the school. The first wave of students, kindergarten through second grade, was greeted by the submariners who manned their respective stations.

“As soon as they came it was amazing, you saw the smiles,” said Electronics Technician Seaman Jason Haynes, who led the students in a game of tug-a-war. “They are having a great time battling each other and having fun at the same time. It’s great.”

Haynes also participated in a game of tug-a-war and was surprised by the strength of the children. He lost.

Students rotated from station to station after completing each task and the children kept track of the stations they completed on a sheet of paper pinned to their shirts.

Like Haynes, many of the students shared the same excitement for the day’s events.

“I’m having fun playing with toys and balls,” said Shawnelle Johnson Green, a student at Jenkins Elementary School who was simply happy to get out of the classroom.

After a brief lunch break for the first wave of student participants, it was time for the older third through fifth grade students to join the submariners and other volunteers on the field.

While the submariners enjoyed volunteering at the school and interacting with the students, their participation had a larger effect on the Newport News community.

“[The students] get a sense of accomplishment, teamwork, [because] they’re teamed in pairs,” said Herman. “It also gives them some physical activity and hopefully with us being here it gives them a little sense of Navy pride in the community.”

Press Release, May 7, 2013; Image: US Navy