Army signs partnership with Local Area Schools

Army signs partnership with Local Area Schools

FORT SILL, OK (KSWO) -For over 20 years, Fort Sill and Southwest Oklahoma schools have vowed to help one another, and Monday... they renewed that partnership.

16 area superintendents and principals were all at a special signing ceremony Monday, along with Major General Brian McKiernan, Fort Sill's Commanding General and other officials.

Together they signed the partnership agreement.

The goal is to get the students more involved in the community, teach them about the military and inspire them by being positive role models.

APLAS, or Army Partnership with Lawton Area Schools is a way soldiers mentor students in schools. They do everything from reading with students, building playground equipment and this year, they're really focusing on encouraging them to live active, healthy lifestyles.

The Soldiers at Fort Sill and teachers in Southwest Oklahoma are taking serving to the next level.

"They've come to evening events, day events," said Shanklin. "You name it, they're always there, always willing to help."

Mikel Shanklin, the Principal of Freedom Elementary and Barbara Ellis, the Assistant Superintendent of Lawton Public Schools have watched so many students graduate and leave as better students and people because of APLAS.

Shanklin says it's inspiring to see soldiers give up their time to work with students on education, leadership and health and fitness.

"Fort Sill has helped us with providing tower gardens, so we can actually grow vegetables and trips to the Thunder game for Healthy fit," said Shanklin.

Major General Brian McKiernan, Fort Sill's Commanding General says these kids represent the future of our nation and they need teachers, parents and military leaders to guide them.

"Many of these children are our own service members children, so it's kind of a self interest as well as looking for how can we ensure that the young men and women that one day might serve in our armed forces have some level of understanding and also meet the requirements," said McKiernan.

He believes APLAS prepared his daughter for college and her future.

"I really think a lot of that has to do with the commitment of our educators and providing an environment that really pushes kids to be their very best and she did exceptionally well here," said McKiernan.

Ellis says they've seen this program grow from the ground up and they know it will be around for many years to come.

"We applaud Fort Sill for what they've done in order to dedicate time, energy and people to making this partnership work," said Ellis.

Monday was just the kick off of the partnership for this school year in Lawton. Soon teachers and parents will be seeing these soldiers all around the schools and involved with the students.

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