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ONW sponsors help students cut a rug

By Senior Airman C. Todd Lopez

INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey (Nov. 30, 2001) -- Military members deployed here as part of Operation Northern Watch sometimes find they have few options, or more exactly, few meaningful options, to occupy their time during the 90-day rotations.

Fortunately, the students of the 8th grade class at Incirlik-American High School have presented themselves as an opportunity for ONW members to do something worthwhile in their off time. ONW has been assigned as the class' "sponsor," and volunteers are needed to fill the role.

"This is something that has been going on for a while. Each year, the 39th Wing designates an organization to be the sponsor for each grade level," said Amy Perry, social studies instructor and 8th grade class advisor. "The sponsor basically helps out with chaperoning and also helps to facilitate various events throughout the year."

In the past, the class had been less than excited by their sponsors.

"Last year we did have a sponsor but we never saw them at all. When these kids were 7th graders we didn't have any field trips or dances because we didn't have any chaperones," said Perry. "When students were running for student elections they were all saying we had to have more activities this year, that they didn't want to have another year like last year."

Student government must work, because this year, ONW volunteers have made a great showing for the class. They have helped the 8th grade class hold a school dance and take a field trip to the base movie theater. Without ONW assistance, the events might not have been possible.

"With this level of force protection, where the kids are very limited in what they can do, it is nice to have school activities where we can provide the kids with an outlet, a release," said Perry.

The students are well aware of the fact.

"It's been great, and I'm glad the chaperones were there," said 8th grader Natasha Hancock. "We wouldn't have been able to have it without them."

According to Perry, there is another 8th grade dance in the works, and volunteers will be needed to make that happen. Students themselves have other ideas about how to utilize their sponsors.

"I think it would be cool to go to Aqualand," said 8th grader, Seth Swenson, referring to water park in the local area.

"And we would like to have a lock-in maybe," said Hancock.

Swenson agreed. "You can't leave and you stay up all night. We're going to be able to play games and watch movies."

For more information on how to be an ONW sponsor for the 8th grade class, contact Staff Sgt. Gerald Taplin at 6-1151.