SURFPAC Sailors Exchange Banners with Sunset Elementary
By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Elena Pence, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs
SAN DIEGO - Sailors from Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet (SURFPAC) and USS Rushmore (LSD 47) visited Sunset Elementary School in San Ysidro, Calif., Dec. 13 for a banner exchange celebration as part of the Partners in Education (PIE) Program.

SURFPAC and Rushmore created their own banners, which represent their relationship with the school.

Sunset Elementary created banners for both commands in honor of the Sailors in the partnership. The banners will be displayed at the school, the ship and at SURFPAC headquarters until the end of the school year.

SURFPAC Chief of Staff, Capt. John Gelinne, addressed an auditorium filled with students at the event.

"The mission of our PIE Sailor volunteers is to work with the students and to make their education experience better. Learning doesn't stop after high school. We send Sailors to school every day to continue to become better Sailors. We want to help you continue your education experience. I'm looking forward to working with Sunset Elementary as you continue on this journey, because this journey never ends and we will be a part of that with you," said Gelinne.

Rushmore Commanding Officer Cmdr. Brian J. Finman, a guest speaker at the event, spoke about the importance of math and science in the Navy and what he expects from the partnership.

"I'm happy to be here because when I look out and see your faces, I see the future of America and that's why it means so much for us to come here," said Finman. "What I do on the ship is train the crew to do maintenance so it operates properly, which is where math and science are involved. What I expect of you, is for you to come to school every day, be eager to learn, listen to what your teachers say, and remember that education is the key to unlocking your potential, so that in the future you can grow up and help the country move forward."

Charo Minton-Castro, Sunset Elementary's librarian and head-coordinator for PIE, welcomed the military members to the assembly and thanked them for their involvement with the school.

"On behalf of the Sunset community, I want to thank all of the Sailors for creating this partnership," said Minton-Castro. "Our children will greatly benefit from the partnership we have created. We are very excited and look forward to working together in making the military a part of the Sunset community and family."

After the introductions and guest speakers, Lt. Moneé Freas, SURFPAC's science, technology, engineering and math outreach coordinator, demonstrated several science experiments, creating artificial snow and then small rubber balls. Freas also conducted an experiment to teach students about vortexes.

PIE is a non-profit organization consisting of education partners focused on ensuring all students leave school with the academic, technical and employable skills necessary to be successful in the workplace. Eleven San Diego ships and shore commands and seven schools in the San Ysidro District participate in the PIE Program. This is the first type commander initiative of its kind.

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