Golden Knights Headline Local School’s Military Appreciation Day

Third graders at Neuse Charter School in Smithfield, N.C. work on a thank you banner that they will present to the U.S. Army’s Golden Knights parachute team on Sept. 14, 2017. The school will host its first military appreciation day with the Golden Knights performing a parachute jump onto the school’s campus. Photo by Shannon Mann

Paratroopers will fall from the sky at Neuse Charter School in Smithfield on Thursday, Sept. 14th.

As part of the school’s first military appreciation day, the U.S. Army’s premier parachute demonstration team, the Golden Knights, will land in the school’s back parking lot at 10:00am in front of an estimated 1,200 spectators.

School officials will host a ceremony for 6th-12th grade students and veterans prior to the jump. Maj. Gen. Elizabeth Austin, Army Material Command and a member of the N.C. National Guard, will serve as the keynote speaker talking to students about how military core values align with the school’s core values.

Sue Wilson, elementary art teacher at Neuse Charter School, shows third grade students what needs to be done to complete a large art project that will be used during the school’s military appreciation day on Sept. 14, 2017. The elementary school classes are working on art pieces that can be seen from the air as the U.S. Army’s Golden Knights parachute team descends on the school’s campus as part of the day’s events. Photo by Shannon Mann

Johnston County’s only brick and mortar public charter school has nearly 950 students in grades K-12. The entire school is participating in the morning’s events with elementary school art classes designing art for the drop zone and the middle and high school band performing the March of the Armed Forces. Middle and high school soloists will perform the national anthem and God Bless America. Other local public schools are also participating. Smithfield-Selma High School’s Jr. Navy ROTC will present the colors and Jr. ROTC cadets from Corinth Holders High School and Cleveland High School will be part of the viewing audience.

In addition, four, sixth graders were chosen from more than 70 participants to read an excerpt from an essay they wrote about freedom and sacrifice. The school’s freshman class whittled the pool down to 10 semi-finalists and a group of combat veterans selected the final four. These middle school students will not only read part of their essay during the ceremony, but they will also present a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown in Washington D.C. in early November.

“Our community has already come together in so many ways to help us celebrate this special day,” said Susan Pullium, NCS executive director. “Our panel of combat veterans represented the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines and served in wartime during WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. We are honored by their presence and proud that we can say thank you to them and all the others who have done so much for this nation.”

Neuse Charter School third graders work on an art project that will be part of the school’s first military appreciation day on Sept. 14, 2017. The elementary art department, led by teacher Sue Wilson, is putting together a large banner that will be visible from the air as the U.S. Army’s Golden Knights parachute onto the school’s campus from 5,000ft in the air that morning. Photo by Shannon Mann

WWII veteran, Col. Ray Kleber of Clayton, will be honored on the field in front of the crowd after the jump by the Golden Knights, along with Master Sgt. Cory Watson, an NCS parent, who will deploy to Southwest Asia the following week with the 4th Fighter Wing, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.