J.P.P. Magnet School program salutes vets, discusses STEAM careers in military

Published 8:30 am Saturday, November 11, 2023

Eastside J.P. Powell Magnet School held “A Salute to Our Veterans” program on Friday to honor those who have served and teach students about career options in the military.

“We are here today not only to honor our men and women of service, past and present, and future, but we’re here to plant a seed with our students, your children, this generation and the next generation,” said Principal Allyson Matthews during the program.

The program is the first of Eastside J.P. Powell’s STEAM series, which will take place throughout the school year. There will be several more events spread throughout the year discussing STEAM opportunities.

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Some students got involved in the program as well. Mr. and Miss Eastside J.P. Powell Magnet School Lukas Singletary and McKenzie Hill introduced the event and gave the pledge of allegiance, and the middle school choir sang the “Star Spangled Banner.”

Robert Spatz, a retired veteran and Eastside J.P. Powell Teacher of the Year, spoke to the students about the sacrifice of the military. He said he hopes his students will be inspired to pursue further education after high school.

“I want them to do their best to get into great school, and no matter what they should do, stay in school, get a degree and be something great,” Spatz said.

Spatz said the sacrifices families make so that their loved ones can serve in the military should also be recognized.

Service is what defines Spatz’s life. He served in the military for 23 years. After retiring, he worked as an educator for another 25 years. He said his wife and family have been a great support system.

Dr. Carlos Whitfield, Chief Warrant Officer 3 of the U.S. Army, is a cybersecurity specialist who has worked for the IRS. He visited the J.P. Powell students to tell them about cybersecurity for the first STEAM series day.

“The goal was to like plant that seed and get them to start thinking toward what do they want to do,” Whitfield said. “And just to show them that cybersecurity is an avenue that’s very interesting as well as a lucrative opportunity to make a better life.”

Whitfield discussed internet safety tips, cybersecurity career options and tips for building cyber skills over time. He encouraged the students to challenge themselves in their coursework and in their spare time.

“Do your best. Don’t slack. Learn to love school if you don’t,” Whitfield said during the program. “Build your confidence. Confidence helps you capitalize on whatever life presents.”

“I want to challenge our students to consider the military as a career,” Matthews said. “As you heard today, there are some lucrative opportunities and an opportunity to take your education to the next level and to serve your country.”