VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - A special exhibit celebrating the life of a military child is on display at the Lynnhaven Mall.
Kicking off the Month of the Military Child, the seventh annual Art of Being a Military Child exhibit is a partnership between Military School Liaison Officers, Virginia Beach City Public Schools and the Lynnhaven Mall to bring the art display to the Virginia Beach community.
News 3 anchor Kurt Williams emceed the event Wednesday, which started at 6 p.m.
The exhibit started with 180 pieces of art in 2013; this year, more than 800 pieces of art and narratives from 50 Virginia Beach schools will be on display throughout the month of April.
The city-wide contest is open to military and civilian kids, allowing them to depict life from the eyes of military dependents - as well as how living in a military community affects civilian children - through art.
There were various themes: From pride in having family members serve, to the challenges of dealing with deployment, which is what 5th grader Jasmine Casas-Flores focused on.
"There was an actual photograph taken after he came home from a deployment, and I tried to put that in my drawing," Jasmine said. "'Cause when he does leave I feel like a part of my happiness does turn off, but when I see him it does turn back on."
When asked about his reaction when he hears that, Jasmine's father said it's something he struggles to put into words.
"It's just an emotion that you feel," he told us.
The Corporate Landing Middle School Advanced Concert Band provided opening music, played the National Anthem and ended with patriotic music. The Princess Anne High School JROTC provided the Color Guard for the event.
Commanders from local military bases were on hand to help with the presentations. The following people presented awards:
- Dr. Don Robertson, Chief Schools Officer, Virginia Beach City Public Schools
- Deputy Secretary Kathleen Jabs, Deputy Secretary, Veterans and Defense Affairs
- Captain Joey Frantzen, Installation Commander, Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story (United States Navy)
- Captain Chad Vincelette, Commanding Officer, Naval Air Station Oceana (United States Navy)
- Colonel John Barranco, Commanding Officer, Expeditionary Warfare Training Group Atlantic (United States Marine Corps)
- Captain Kevin Carroll, Deputy Commander, Sector Hampton Roads (United States Coast Guard)
- Colonel Bruce Pulver, Commandant of the US Army School of Music (United States Army)
- Representative from United States Air Force