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USS America visits CPJMA

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Sailors from the amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6), along with Sailors and Marines from several other commands in the San Diego area, attended a military appreciation event recognizing service members and students from military families at Crown Point Junior Music Academy (CPJMA), May 28.

The service members volunteered to read books, talk about what they do in the military, and engage in field sports with the students.

CPJMA is a neighborhood elementary school located in the town of Pacific Beach aimed at developing children's talents who show interest in visual and performing arts.

The entire student body welcomed the volunteer Sailors and Marines by singing "America, the Beautiful." Soon after the service members were acquainted with the students and faculty, they headed right into warm-ups - jumping jacks, running in place, and stretches followed by a few laps around the school field - to kick off the events of the day.

After the warm up, the volunteers split up to read and answer questions from the various classes. Boatswain's Mate 2nd Class Byron Pondexter, attached to Explosive Ordinance Disposal Training and Evaluation Unit 1, read a book that was familiar to him.

"I was able to exercise, run and read to them," he said. "I read the book 'Paper Hugs' to the kids; they really liked it."

Once reading and questions were finished, the military family students and volunteers had breakfast, and then proceeded to the auditorium to watch the choir sing. After the performance, the Naval Base Point Loma Color Guard and the Military Kids Club (MKC) presented a hand-made United States flag to Capt. Michael W. Baze, commanding officer of America.

"We really appreciate this," Baze said after receiving the gift. "I have to agree music does open minds in my opinion. I started playing the clarinet when I was young. We will hang the flag in a place of honor so everyone can see it."

At lunch, everyone at the school had Western barbecue before heading out to the field to play soccer.

"I couldn't be happier with the volunteers and their performance today," said Carol Beville, the Naval Base Point Loma school liaison officer. "That's what makes the students feel they are appreciated with the sacrifices that they make when their moms and dads deploy."

For more news from USS America (LHA 6), visit www.navy.mil/local/lha6/.