PATUXENT RIVER NAVAL AIR STATION, MDNAS Patuxent River is known for research, development, testing and evaluation, but on May 12, the air station was recognized for its outstanding school volunteer and Navy-education partnership programs.
Navy, school and community leaders gathered at Pax River May 12 for a ceremony honoring station leaders and volunteers for their contributions to the station's Personal Excellence Partnership program, winner of the Navy's 2002 PEP Flagship Award.
On hand for the award ceremony was Patricia Richardson, superintendent of St. Mary's County Public Schools, as well as members of the St. Mary's County Board of Education and St. Mary's County Board of Commissioners.
Rear Adm. Christopher Weaver, commandant of Naval District Washington, presented the award to Rear Adm. Tim Heely, NAWCAD commander, and ABHC(AW) Frank Dickerson, coordinator of Pax River's PEP program.
"Competition for these awards is extremely keen," Weaver said. "To be selected means that your program is truly exceptional. I am extremely proud of the volunteer spirit at Pax."
Praising station leaders and volunteers for their support of the naval air station's school partnership program, Weaver commented on the motivation behind such efforts.
"We are not just doing something because it makes us feel good. It's a calling," Weaver said. "We owe it to the generation behind us to leave things better than they were."
Addressing the station volunteers who work directly with students in the classroom, Weaver emphasized the importance of their contributions.
"The full impact of your efforts is immeasurable and will be felt for years to come," Weaver said. "Through your actions, you demonstrate what leadership is all about - leading by example, serving others and helping others develop to their full potential."
The school superintendent also praised station volunteers for their contributions to local education.
"Our students have truly reaped the benefits of the hours and hours of service you have given," Richardson said, noting that internships, science and technology fairs, computer donations and other special programs have been beneficial to students.
She also said that more than 16,000 students have benefited from Pax River volunteers who have tutored and mentored students.
"Through one-on-one mentoring, you have modeled the Navy's core values of honor, courage and commitment for our students," she said. "When you mentor a child, you don't just give your time, you give your heart. This personal relationship you establish with individual students is a powerful strategy that truly makes the difference for many of them."
Richardson also thanked station volunteers for contributing to many of the public school system's successes. Among these successes, Richardson highlighted an increase in SAT scores, an increase in the percentage of students planning to attend college and a tripling in the number of advanced placement courses offered to county students.
"We could not do the things we do for students without your active participation and support," Richardson said. "You are always there for us and we consider you to be our greatest partner."
Pax River was selected as the Navy's worldwide winner in the large shore station category.
>From June 1, 2001, through June 30, 2002, Pax River sponsored partnerships with 26 public, private and parochial schools in Southern Maryland with hundreds of Sailors and civilian volunteers.