‘Round-Up’ establishes student connections

roundup2By Airman 1st Class Shelby Kay-Fantozzi

27th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs

Approximately 65 fourth-12th grade students attended Cannon’s first Student Connection Round-Up, a day-long event designed to help military children at Cannon Air Force Base meet new friends before the start of the school year.

“Our main goal for the event was to put smiles on kids’ faces,” said Lori Dunn, 27th Special Operations Force Support Squadron school liaison officer. “I wanted to see kids connect with each other and see the light bulb go off when they realize they’re not alone.”

The day’s activities, starting with a kid-friendly version of the Cannon AFB mission brief, ensured that Dunn’s goals were met by encouraging students to form a support network and turn to each other when facing the challenges associated with military family life.

“Remember that we are a family,” said Col. Tony Bauernfeind, 27th Special Operations Wing commander, as he concluded the mission brief. “We’re taking care of you and we’re taking care of your families every step of the way.”

A class on resiliency, bully prevention bingo and a talk on goal setting and positive thinking all served to remind Cannon’s youngest commandos that they’re not alone, especially when facing challenges like the first day at a new school, a deployment in the family or fear of the unknown.

“There are a lot of kids out there dealing with the same issues and working trough the same feelings,” Dunn said.

A confidence course proved to students that they could work together, challenging teams to communicate with a blindfolded player as they navigated the course.

After a panel of experienced students answered questions from students new to the area, the round-up ended at the Landing Zone, where the First Friday celebrations also had a back-to-school theme.

Beyond making new connections at the event, Cannon students were able to record some observations on their experiences as military children that will be shared with local teachers at the upcoming Teachers Understanding Deployment Operations meeting. Through TUDO, more than 60 teachers will meet to learn more about how to accommodate and support military children in the classroom.

In addition to support from their peers and their teachers, children at Cannon have year-round access to military family life consultants and youth center programming.