Iowa Cadets bring high-fives, good vibes to local elementary school
US Army | Mar. 4, 2022
JOHNSTON, Iowa: You have probably seen Soldiers saluting, but have you seen them giving high-fives? On a cold February morning in northwest Iowa, six Cadets with the Buena Vista University Army ROTC program waved foam hands and brought smiles to the faces of hundreds of kids. It was High-Five Friday, where Storm Lake Elementary invites community members to come and give high-fives to students as they arrive at school.
Cadet Logan Connelly, a unit supply specialist with the 3655th Classification and Inspection Company, Iowa Army National Guard, was among the group of Soldiers.
He said some of the students were a bit shy, while others were excited and wanted to give each Soldier several high-fives.
Connelly said there was one moment in particular that really stood out to him when a student in a wheel chair opted not to give the Cadets a high-five.
“We didn't know what was going to happen, and then he just got quiet and smiled and lifted his arm up into a salute,” said Connelly. “So, we all [saluted] back.”
One of the Cadets was excused from her own classes to participate.
Pfc. Caitlyn Ebert, a chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear specialist with the 186th Military Police Company, Iowa Army National Guard, said participating provided her a sense of accomplishment.
“You know, you're helping your community, you're helping the world on a larger scale,” said Ebert. “Just seeing the little kids being so excited like, ‘Oh, hey, you're a Soldier.’”
Some parents even participated in High-Five Friday, thanking the Cadets for their support of the students.
Storm Lake Elementary established the High-Five Friday program in 2018 in collaboration with various community members and organizations. School counselor Melanie Brashears brought the concept to Storm Lake during her first year in the district.
Brashears said this program is important for kids because it offers positive interactions with adults, which they may not otherwise have. After interacting with the group of Cadets, one student told her he wanted to be a Soldier when he grows up.
As Connelly put on his uniform that morning, he was grateful for the opportunity to have a positive impact in his community.
“When [the students] are going through COVID, and other stress, maybe we don't know how their family lives are,” said Connelly, “but being able to get up and help those kids out and brighten their day, the [Army] values come into play.”