by Angie Asam–Staff Writer
Ms. Simmons kindergarten class at Rogers City Elementary School is involved in a unique project this school year. The class has adopted SPC Ben Wood, currently serving in the United States Army as a nuclear, chemical, biological and radiation specialist.
Wood is preparing to be deployed to Camp Arifjan in Kuwait at the end of the month. Students spent time visiting with his parents, Jeff and Jacqui Wood of Montague and brother Jeff Wood, his wife April and nephews Landon and Nolan of Rogers City Monday.
“I am good friends with the Wood family and became friends with Ben last summer. He talked about the idea of having a class adopt him and he seemed very interested in doing it. He really enjoys kids so I thought it would be a good idea,” said teacher Sarah Simmons.
Students will spend time this year drawing pictures, writing letters and talking to Ben through Skype. They will also learn geography as they follow him on his journey. Ben is currently stationed in Texas and will be leaving for Kuwait on Sept. 30. He plans to talk to the class on Oct. 3 through Skype for the first time.
“It gets us writing, using technology and making connections with people outside of our families and school. It has been very positive so far. The kids are excited and keep coming up with questions to ask Mr. Ben. It is helping them think outside the box and come up with an understanding,” said Simmons.
MONDAY MORNING Mr. Ben’s family visited the classroom. His mother, who teaches music in Montague, read to the class Ben’s favorite childhood book, “The Puppy Who Wanted a Boy.”
Following the story the children asked questions about Ben that were answered by his family from his favorite food, favorite animal and favorite color to his favorite shape.
They learned that Ben really likes being in the Army and was a standout football and basketball player in high school. They found out he loves to read and has a special love for Iceman, his dog, who just happened to be in the car.
It didn’t take long for the students to ask if they could meet Iceman. When they found out they could in fact meet him, Mr. Wood went to get him from the car bringing him in for students to meet as they worked on drawing pictures to send to Ben. Of course, after meeting his special pet many students worked to draw pictures of Iceman to send to him.
The students took time to take many pictures with Mr. Ben’s parents, which will soon be sent to him in Kuwait. Simmons believes the idea of adopting the soldier will help students make those important connections as well as help Ben as he fights for our country and our freedom.
“We are learning more than we ever could have out of a textbook and are helping to keep a smile on his face as well,” said Simmons.
AS THE year goes on, the students will have many more opportunities to make things and write things for their new, special friend and spend time with his family.