Rushmore Commanding Officer Speaks to Elementary School Students 
By Lt. j.g. Alanna Strei, USS Rushmore Public Affairs 
San Diego, Calif. – USS Rushmore (LSD 47) Commanding Officer Cmdr. William Grotewold spoke today during an opening celebration of the partnership between USS Rushmore (LSD 47), Naval Surface Forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet (SURFPAC) and Sunset Elementary School in San Ysidro, Calif.

Sunset Elementary School welcomed Cmdr. Grotewold, Lt. Cmdr. Michael Stucky, Executive Officer, USS Rushmore (LSD 47), Lt. Peter Dahlstrom, Chaplain, USS Rushmore (LSD 47), Master Chief Petty Officer Foy Harris, Command Master Chief, USS Rushmore, Cmdr. Yvette Davids, Commander Naval Surface Forces Headquarters, and Lt. Moneé Freas, SURFPAC’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Outreach Coordinator, along with Sailors from the USS Rushmore and SURFPAC.

“The entire crew of the USS Rushmore is very excited to work with Sunset Elementary students,” said Cmdr. Grotewold while addressing the nearly 500 students present for the celebration. “I am here in a room full of smart people; full of people who are going to find the answers to today and tomorrow’s challenges. There is nothing to be afraid of with science and math – just keep asking questions.”

Sailors from the USS Rushmore and SURFPAC have planned several events with the elementary school, including physical fitness days, community service, and STEM-oriented activities to encourage students’ interest in science and math.

“How does a heavy, enormous ship float in the ocean? How does an airplane go from zero to one hundred and sixty miles per hour in a split second? Everything we do in the Navy is related to math, science, technology and engineering,” said Cmdr. Davids while addressing the students. “Every single person who helped to make these things possible is just like you – they were in second grade once, too.”

The event finished up with a liquid nitrogen-filled presentation by Lt. Freas. Freezing balloons, flowers, ping-pong balls and finally making ice cream, she kept the students engaged with science fair-style tricks and experiments.

“I thought ice cream would be a great way to cap off the event” said Freas, who founded the STEM program at SURFPAC to raise interest in and awareness of science, technology, engineering and math among youth. “I think this celebration was a great beginning to the partnership between Sunrise Elementary, SURFPAC, and USS Rushmore.”

USS Rushmore returned from a seven-month Western Pacific deployment in April and is currently undergoing an extended depot level maintenance availability period at NASSCO shipyard in San Diego. Sunset Elementary school serves students in the San Ysidro School District aged kindergarten through sixth grade.

For more information on USS Rushmore, please visit www.public.navy.mil/surfor/lsd47
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