Up & Coming Weekly

May 23, 2023

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

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Page 12 of 24

12 UCW MAY 24 - 30, 2023 WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM FEATURES From kindergarten to high school: Cumberland County Schools kick off graduation season a STAFF REPORT About 165 third-graders at Gallberry Farm Elementary School recently lined the halls waving banners and cheering on former students who are set to graduate from Gray's Creek High School on June 5. GCHS seniors Tinley Davis, Alex- andra Garcia, Gerald Mason, Julia Norman and Xavier Stephens donned their caps and gowns and proudly rushed through the halls giving el- ementary school students high-fives while cherishing the moment. "is was bittersweet," said Norman. "It seemed so far away when I was little, but now that I'm here, it's like, wow, I really am here. And, this is the end of my journey ... kind of sad. But, I'm so excited, though, for my future. I have so many things in place, and I can't wait to go to college and experi- ence college life." roughout their visit, Norman and her classmates helped inspire the younger students to graduate from high school and look toward attending college. ese teens also helped officially kick off Cumberland County Schools' 2023 Graduation Season, which runs from May 25 through June 7. During this time, thousands of seniors have plans to walk across the stage of the Cumberland County Crown Coliseum to receive their diplomas. However, these soon-to-be gradu- ates realize that they didn't take this educational journey alone. CCS educators were always there, cheer- ing them along the way. "It [being a student] was a lot of hard work," said Norman. "A lot of teachers were helping me and guiding me through ... I'm glad I had that support here at Gallberry." at was also the case for Stephens, who was able to pay a special surprise visit to his kinder- garten teacher, Karen Odell. When he walked into the room, the two em- braced with warm smiles and open arms as Odell's students, who were seated on the storytime carpet, looked on in amazement. "is is great seeing him," said Odell, as she beamed with pride and shook her head. "is is absolutely great!" An observer could see the brief reunion as 'a full-circle moment' and as a stark reminder that Cumberland County Schools is capable of taking students from the kindergarten carpet to the college classroom and beyond. For information about Cumberland County Schools' 2023 Graduations, visit www.graduation.ccs.k12.nc.us. Seniors from Gray's Creek High School recently visited Gallberry Farm Elementary School to encourage younger students and kick off the Cumberland County high school graduation season, which runs from May 25 through June 7. (Photos courtesy Cumberland County Schools) Seventy-First HS grad serves aboard Navy ship in Japan by XIAOMING ZHENG, Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class, Navy Office of Community Outreach YOKOSUKA, Japan — Petty Officer 1st Class Alexander Cannon, a native of Fayetteville, serves in Japan aboard a forward-deployed U.S. Navy war- ship. Cannon joined the Navy 12 years ago. Today, Cannon serves as an in- formation systems technician aboard USS Ralph Johnson. "I joined the Navy mainly for my family," said Cannon. "Both of my parents are prior service members, my sister and my two cousins are cur- rently serving and I wanted to follow in their footsteps." Growing up in Fayetteville, Cannon attended Seventy-First High School and graduated in 2010. Today, Cannon relies upon skills and values similar to those found in Fayetteville to succeed in the military. "One of the lessons I learned from my hometown was to set goals and stick to them," said Cannon. "I also learned to treat the Navy like a career and not to look back." Modern U.S. Navy surface ships provide a wide range of warfighting capabilities in multi-threat air, surface and subsurface environments. A Navy surface ship is capable of operating independently or as part of carrier strike groups, surface action groups or expeditionary strike groups. Jobs aboard a U.S. Navy ship are highly specialized, requiring both dedication and skill, according to Navy officials. e jobs range from maintaining engines to handling weaponry along with a multitude of other assignments that keep the ship mission-ready at all times. As a member of the Navy, Cannon is part of a world-class organization focused on maintaining maritime dominance, strengthening partner- ships, increasing competitive warf- ighting capabilities and sustaining combat-ready forces in support of the National Defense Strategy. Cannon serves in Japan as part of the Forward Deployed Naval Forces. ese naval forces operate with allies and partners to preserve a free and open Indo-Pacific region. Service members in this region are part of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, which has the largest area of responsibility in the world. "As the largest force in our nation's front line against revisionist actors, U.S. Pacific Fleet meets this great re- sponsibility with strength, resolve and confidence," said Adm. Samuel Papa- ro, U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander. "To- gether with our joint and combined partner operations, we are positioned to defend — across all domains — any attempts to threaten our nation, our allies and partner's security, freedom and well-being." Cannon and the sailors they serve with have many opportunities to achieve accomplishments during their military service. "I am most proud of my accom- plishments at my last command," said Cannon. "I witnessed all my junior sailors get promoted to second and first class petty officers." As Cannon and other sailors contin- ue to train and perform missions, they take pride in serving their country in the United States Navy. "Serving in the Navy means I have a family, when I'm away from my fam- ily," said Cannon. Cannon is grateful to others for helping make a Navy career possible. "I want to thank my parents," added Cannon. "ey have given me the tools to be successful in the Navy." Petty Officer 1st Class Alexander Cannon serves aboard the USS Ralph Johnson in Japan. (Photo by Lt. Cmdr. Jake Joy, Navy Office of Commu- nity Outreach)

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