As fourth and second graders, Deven and Quinton Dyer have already said more than their share of goodbyes.
The Dyers and their mom, Jamie are used to it. Jamie's husband, and the boys' father, Vincent, has served in the U.S. Army for 16 years. The family has lived in Georgia, Korea, Italy, Nevada, Indiana, California, and now, North East.
The children were treated to a special lunch - featuring pizza and cupcakes. They also got to have time together playing games. "I'm glad they're being recognized," said Jamie Dyer, who explained that since the family doesn't live on a military installation, they are in a unique environment. "They've said goodbye a lot," she said.
This was a first ever event at the school. But the school counselor explained it will be annual.
"In today's military, mothers and fathers choose to serve and sacrifice for our country. Their children don't choose but they have to manage the challenges that being a military kid brings. This is just a small way that we can say thank you to them for serving too," said North East Elementary School Counselor Dale Kerns.
Kerns said that there are currently 1.4 million children in the U.S. who have at least one parent who is in the military.
Hope and Leigha Musselman are also military children. "I'm proud of my dad. He's not afraid," said Hope Musselman, who is in fourth grade. Kindergartner Leigha said despite his choice of careers, her father is fun. "He is in the Army but we can do fun things with him. I'm building a dollhouse with my dad," she said.
This may have been the first local commemoration of Military Kid Appreciation Month, but it won't be the last. This summer, Kerns will attend the Military Child Education Coalition National Training in Washington, D.C. North East VFW Post #6027 and the Rotary Club of North East supported this training.
Kerns said that will help equip her to implement training for other school counselors regarding dealing with the unique needs of military families.
She has unique insight into this issue. Kerns' brother served in the U.S. Navy during Desert Storm and later in Bosnia. "I saw the impact it had on his three children and his wife. It was very hard on his three young children to understand how far away their daddy was and why he wasn't home for birthdays and holidays. It was hard on his wife and their marriage. That has given me a passion for helping children who have parents that are active duty, reserves, or veterans," said Kerns.
She said that typically, being a military child can be a bigger challenge for high school students. Those students may come to Cecil County from an area where graduation requirements are different than they are locally.