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El Paso ISD military partners recognized at Fort Bliss PIE Kick-Off

(FORT BLISS – Sept. 30, 2022) – El Paso ISD’s Fort Bliss partner units swept the award ceremony Friday during the 2022-23 Partners in Education Kick-Off Ceremony at the Centennial Club. The event celebrated the partnerships between Fort Bliss and area schools and introduced to schools the unit assigned as their 2022-23 partner.

During the event, Charles Middle School’s partner – the 3rd Battalion, 43rd Defense Artillery Regiment, 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade – took the most honors claiming both the Partnership of the Year and Top Hours awards.

“The Partnership of the Year Award is awarded to the partnership that has traveled the extra mile and made a significant impact in students’ lives through selfless acts and immeasurable volunteer efforts,” said Simone Kendricks, Fort Bliss School Liaison Officer. “This partnership has been chosen for its strength in terms of the reciprocal relationship between the unit and the school.”

Morehead Middle’s 2021-22 partner – the 2nd Battalion, 501st Aviation Regiment, 1st Armored Division, Combat Aviation Brigade – also received the Top Hour Award.

The Outstanding Volunteer of the Year, which is awarded to the individual who’s made the biggest impact on their unit’s partnership, was Charles Middle School partner Sgt. Tyler Burkel.

“The support we received from the staff and students has been immense. It wasn’t something I was expecting,” said Burkel, who described their partnership as ‘unbreakable.’ “I still have ties at Charles and I can still help even though I’m at a new school. I liked that we were able to go out and meet new people, help the school and better the community, and better the camaraderie we have.”

Parent liaison Dotty Caldwell praised Burkel and his commitment to Charles’ staff and students. The unit was supportive of Charles’ special events and assisted with students struggling academically.

“He’s so deserving of the Volunteer of the Year award,” she said. “I’d call him and ask if he could send 20 soldiers to our science fair, and he’d bring 40. He’s so good.”

After the awards presentation, schools throughout the region met with the Fort Bliss units assigned as their partner for the 2022-23 school year to plan out collaborative activities.

“Fort Bliss is a big part of our city. They’ve even made the city what it is today,” Charles Principal David Zamora said. “It’s nice that they are giving back and that we’re working together.”

Story by Reneé de Santos