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Expanding the herd: Yuma Blacksheep adopt elementary school

By Lance Cpl. Aaron Diamant | | October 14, 2010

Marine Attack Squadron 214 adopted C.W. McGraw Elementary School in Yuma, Ariz., Oct. 6, 2010, establishing a mutually beneficial relationship between the school and the squadron.

The Blacksheep plan to visit the school regularly to promote literacy and the “can do” attitude Marines are famous for.

“We’re happy and honored that our school was chosen for this,” said Chris Clayton, C.W. McGraw Elementary School principal. “We don’t have a large military population that lives in our attendance area, so it’s a positive thing for our kids to be able to see the Marines come to our school and see the positive impact that they make in our community and society.”

Marines from the squadron are happy to help the school.

“It’s a great opportunity for us to give back to the community,” said Lt. Col. William Sauerland Jr., VMA-214 executive officer. “We’re probably getting more than we’re giving in terms of the fact that we get the chance to interact with the kids.”

The squadron aims “to ensure that all Yuma students will graduate with the skills, motivation, curiosity and resilience to succeed in their choice of college and career, in order to lead and participate in the society of tomorrow,” according to a partnership agreement between the Blacksheep and the school.

The school welcomed the Marines with enthusiasm as they entered the campus.

The Marines visited and helped with kindergarten and sixth-grade classes. They also played with the students during recess and ate lunch with them in the school’s cafeteria.

“This is just great! I’ve never seen my class so lively and focused before,” said Don Curry, kindergarten teacher. The Marines read to the students and one Marine even entertained the students with a puppet show.

The school hopes the interaction between the Marines and the students will reinforce lessons the children learn in the classroom.

“They’ll teach the kids rules and how to play with respect, and just be good role models for our kids, and maybe somebody that they would like to be like when they grow up,” said Clayton.

The Marines in attendance also saw the benefit of spending time with the children.

“Being here and interacting with them lets them see that we do more than just what they read about or see on TV,” said Sgt. Krystal Chatham, VMA-214 intelligence analyst. “These kids have a lot of energy, and they are a lot of fun to spend time with.”

The Blacksheep plan to visit the school weekly, as well as provide volunteers for campus beautification projects and special events.

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