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MHAFB celebrates military children

Two children play during recess April 3, 2013, at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. Throughout the month the base is spotlighting these children and the struggles they go through as military kids. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Malissa Lott/Released)

Two children play during recess April 3, 2013, at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. Throughout the month the base is spotlighting these children and the struggles they go through as military kids. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Malissa Lott/Released)

A student is picked up by a family member April 3, 2013, at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. The base primary school has invited parents and family members to have lunch with their children every Wednesday during the month of April to celebrate Month of the Military Child. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Malissa Lott/Released)

A student is picked up by a family member April 3, 2013, at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. The base primary school has invited parents and family members to have lunch with their children every Wednesday during the month of April to celebrate Month of the Military Child. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Malissa Lott/Released)

A child plays underneath the jungle gym April 3, 2013, at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. April is Month of the Military Child and the base is celebrating by holding multiple events. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Malissa Lott/Released)

A child plays underneath the jungle gym April 3, 2013, at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. April is Month of the Military Child and the base is celebrating by holding multiple events. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Malissa Lott/Released)

A teacher assists students with class work April 3, 2013, at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. Students are currently celebrating Month of the Military Child by making posters and signs for display throughout the school. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Benjamin Sutton/Released)

A teacher assists students with class work April 3, 2013, at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. Students are currently celebrating Month of the Military Child by making posters and signs for display throughout the school. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Benjamin Sutton/Released)

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- The inside of the building was tidy and clean, lined with water fountains and chairs so small they almost seemed to scrape the ground.

Suddenly a bell rang and the hallways swiftly filled with three-foot tall children charging their way to recess.

Meanwhile, a hand-made Month of the Military Child poster slowly fluttered to the ground.

"The kids are amazing because we will see them walking through the hallways and they actually stop, point at a sign and smile," said Tara Handy, MHAFB primary school principal. "A parent approached me about celebrating Month of the Military Child and I thought, 'what a wonderful idea.' We started getting into high gear and kicking things off."
Almost every inch of the school is covered with a poster or drawing, and the school is implementing activities to get the students, staff and parents involved.

"Each grade level chooses a student to come up and say the Pledge of Allegiance on the school's loud speaker," said Handy. "We also have Warrior Wednesdays where the students dress in red, white, and blue, and the parents come in for lunch."

School staff are ensuring the 313 MHAFB primary school students understand how important and unique they are in multiple ways.

"We are stopping and recognizing the children for how special they are because of the incredible burden they bare," said Handy, "Military children deal with constant moves and parent deployments, therefore we work hard to maintain an open door policy and on-going communication with parents and base personnel to help immediately support these children's emotional and social needs."

For the past two years the school has had a partnership with the Exceptional Family Member Plan as well as the base Family Advocacy office.

"The hardest thing for a military child is probably parents being gone," said Travis Henke, MHAFB primary school fourth grade teacher. "Just the uncertainty, the not knowing, the not being able to talk to them all the time, makes it hard for our students."

In future years, school leadership has even bigger plans for the month of April.

"In terms of having it next year I want it to grow to the point where it's an entire base-wide activity that people can be a part of as a community dedicated to celebrating these children," said Handy. "That is the ultimate goal and these kids absolutely deserve it."