PDT Staff Report
A Blackhawk helicopter and its crew received a rock-star welcome Thursday morning at Portsmouth Elementary School when it landed near the playground. The event was part of the school's Veterans Day Celebration.
Teachers and students stood nearby, awaiting the arrival of the Blackhawk, which was more than an hour behind schedule, when the hum of the engine was heard and students began to shout "I hear it." Just then, the helicopter took a couple of passes over the crowd, then landed, as the children jumped up and down and cheered.
"It's a wonderful experience for the students," commented Deidre Novinger, the school's dean of students.
Piloting the Blackhawk was Chief Warrant Officer Chris Lowery of Bravo Company 1-137th Assault Helicopter Battalion and flight instructor for the Ohio National Guard. A graduate of Portsmouth East High School, Lowery is set to deploy to Iraq in January. His wife, Amy, who is the school psychologist at PES, said she and Chris thought it would be a good idea for Chris to come down to the school and share with the students where he's going and what he'll be doing.
All the students, plus some classes from the junior high school, had a chance to go through the Blackhawk. Looking on with pride as their father greeted teachers and students were Chris and Amy's two sons, fifth-grader Caden and third-grader Cole.
"They are so excited," Amy said. "They've seen him land other places, but for it be at their school -- it's really exciting and their friends are excited, too."
Chris' crew included firefighters and police officers -- including Portsmouth Police Department Capt. Robert Ware, a captain in the Navy Reserves and Scott Osborne of the Portsmouth Fire Department. Ware and Osborne both said it was their first time aboard a Blackhawk.
The event, Amy said, was a perfect tie-in with the school's Veterans Day celebration which took place Thursday afternoon.
Giving the welcome was Novinger, whose son, Matthew Sedders, has been deployed to Iraq for more than a year and is scheduled to arrive home on Dec. 12. She read a article -- "The Sack Lunches" -- which encourages appreciation for those who serve in the U.S. Armed Forces.
The posting of colors was handled by veterans from the American Legion, and the Pledge of Allegiance was led by Portsmouth Troop 12 and Pack 12 -- Collin Finn, Warren Goddard, Ryan Penn, Ben Davis and Wellington Spencer. Fourth-grade students read essays about veterans, and the choir sang "Those Who Served" and "Choices."
Closing remarks were made by Jeannie Begley, the fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade guidance counselor, who also is a veteran.