Members of the U.S. Naval Academy’s Filipino-American Midshipman Club visited Jones Elementary School on April 20 to kick off Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, which is celebrated in May.
Jones Elementary is one of 16 Anne Arundel County public schools designated for the Mids for Kids program.
Midshipmen Max Bueno, Aubrey Patawaran, Charmaine Posis and Alexander Saber spoke before kindergarten and second-grade students to share the Tagalog language, discuss heritage foods, culture and geography. Posis shared personal photographs of herself growing up in the Philippines, and students were captivated by the picturesque beaches of the country made up of 7,000 islands. The children all wanted to visit the Philippines until they learned that the flight there was 18 hours. AAPI Heritage Month celebrates the historical and cultural contributions of Asian American and Pacific Islander people — an umbrella group that includes those with heritage or ancestry from East, Southeast, South, Central, and West Asia and the Pacific Islands.
Midshipmen visit Jones Elementary School three days per week and assist teachers in classrooms. The college students get to assist in the community and spread awareness of the academy and military service.
Because of its proximity to the Naval Academy coupled with the fact that many Severna Park families are midshipman host families, the Mids for Kids program at Jones Elementary School is a relationship that participants say benefits both the students from the Naval Academy and the school community.
When asked what’s more intimidating, instructors at the academy or kindergarteners, Bueno joked, “We are about to find out!”
The Mids for Kids program, part of the Midshipman Action Group, is a community outreach program with academy volunteers who visit local elementary and middle schools throughout the week to assist teachers. They might run a physical education class, instruct in band or orchestra class, help with homework or bring engineering experience to clubs. It was estimated that more than 3,000 hours were spent in county school classrooms each year prior to the pandemic shutdown. With the re-emergence of outreach programs in schools, the midshipmen who visited Jones Elementary said they are excited to return to Anne Arundel County schools once again.
Judging by the enthusiasm of the Jones students, the children are happy to have the midshipmen return, too.