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By Donna Cipolloni

Tester staff writer

Excited students filled the hallways of Evergreen Elementary, May 16, as they moved from classroom to classroom for presentations by Naval Air Station Patuxent River Sailors, Marines and civilians volunteering at the school’s Career Day event.

“Career Day is a great opportunity for our 3rd-, 4th- and 5th-grade students to have an understanding of what’s available to them in the future and what kinds of things are happening at the base,” explained Kim Summers, principal of the five-year-old school where nearly 65 percent of the student population is connected to Pax River in some way.

From 9:30 a.m. to noon, students rotated in and out of the 20-minute presentations that featured a variety of jobs including pilots, culinary specialists, fire and emergency personnel, search and rescue swimmers, medical specialists, engineers, and members of the Coast Guard.

Cmdr. James Patrey, assistant director of science and technology in the Naval Air Systems Command Human Systems Department (AIR 4.6), enjoys sharing what he does.

“Elementary school kids are always fun,” he said. “I told them about my career field, Aerospace Experimental Psychology, and how we help select, train and equip naval aviators. I found them to be very attentive and inquisitive.”

Hospital Corpsman Jazmaine Anderson from the installation’s Naval Health Clinic said she’s always been interested in science and was hoping the students she talked with would be as intrigued about it as she was at their age.

“To my surprise, they absolutely were,” she said. “I showed a video that broke down each department of the lab and I also tested their knowledge of simple bodily functions and processes, and they were dead-on with their responses.”

Culinary Specialist 1st Class Rommel Suarez, who currently works at the Naval Health Clinic, talked about the countries he’s been to while in the Navy and explained how something as simple as mixing ingredients and baking cookies utilizes lessons the students learn in school — reading, math and science.

“They asked me what I made for lunch and what I like to cook,” Suarez said. “Because the majority of them are from military families, I found them to be culturally aware when it came to foods from around the world.”

Marine Corps Lt. Col. Brian Taylor knew from an early age that he wanted to be a Marine Corps aviator but didn’t know what the job entailed. Taylor said he hoped his participation would help the students understand a little better what being a Marine Corps pilot involves on a day to day basis.

“I told the kids how I got to where I am today; working hard in school, playing sports, getting a college degree, [etc.],” said Taylor, a CH-53E pilot in the H-35 Program Office (PMA-261). “Then I told them a little about what life in the squadron was like and what it was like to go on deployment. I finished with a quick example of what we do here in the program.”

Evergreen’s principal said she would consider it a successful day if just one child went home with an understanding of what they’d like to be when they grow up.

“I remember that happening to me,” Summers said. “I made a connection as a kid and I always knew I wanted to be an educator. Helping them decide what it is they want to be, what they want to do and, most important, what it’s going to take to get there — that’s what it’s all about.”