EAST LIVERPOOL — It was nearly four years today as part of my assignment with the local paper, the East Liverpool Review, to interview a local veteran who was visiting Calcutta Elementary before he was shipped off to fight the war on terrorism.
Jesse “Skip” Allison, in his fatigues and a nervous smile, was just about to be introduced to a throng of elementary school students. I remember the kids really enjoying it. I remember Specialist Allison easily getting over his nervousness and giving the kids great advice about studying hard, eating healthy and exercising.
It was one of those fun stories I get to cover.
But, after I took a photo of Allison being swarmed by smiling students and after I wrote the story later that evening, the seriousness started to set in.
I wondered if his family would ever see him again.
I wondered if I’d ever see him again…
Fast forward to this past week.
We just enrolled our newest students who began their first 8-week module. We had students who were just emerging from a summer break after high school graduation and students who have decided to come back to the classroom later on in life. It was a nice mix and I was really enjoying in getting to know them through class, in the student lounge and in the hallways.
Then one day as I walked past the lobby, one of our new students opened the entrance door, stopped me and asked an unexpected, but fantastic question.
“Hey, Mr. Grimes, do you remember doing a story about a vet visiting Calcutta Elementary?”
There he was!
After serving his term in the Gulf War, after visiting elementary school students, after volunteering to go back to Iraq, there he was: Jesse “Skip” Allison, taking on the next adventure in his life – career college student.
He still had that smile on him, too.
I am honored, humbled, and excited to be able to be a small part of Jesse’s life (and all the students’ lives that come through the door at the Ohio Valley College of Technology). It’s great to see Jesse take advantage of educational opportunities that are offered to veterans and it’s great that he chose OVCT to help him down his life’s path.
I believe the college is a good fit for him. It’s great to see him already being part of the classes and part of the student body. I’m also happy to see the staff and faculty are meeting his helping him every step of the way.
But, that’s expected.
OVCT has been deemed, again, a Military Friendly School® by Victory Media, Inc., who publishes G.I. Jobs Magazine. The distinction is awarded to the top 15 percent of schools, universities, and trade schools in the country that cater to military veterans. Information can be found at militaryfriendlyschools.com.
So, today especially, I take time and remember all who fought (and are fighting) in the wars.
There are veterans from my network of good friends, like Tony. There are the veterans from my family, like my father Mike.
Then there are the veterans from my extended family, the students and their families at OVCT: Jesse, Jeremy, Debra, and Crystal along with her husband.
On behalf of everyone at the Ohio Valley College of Technology, thank you.
Thank you for everything.