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Soccer Balls Awarded to Top-Performing Nigerian Students
Top student performers at St. Therese Primary School in Bwari, Nigeria were honored and treated to a surprise during primary and elementary graduation ceremonies, July 18, 2008. <br /> <br />As Sister Tina, the school&#39;s principal, called her
Top student performers at St. Therese Primary School in Bwari, Nigeria were honored and treated to a surprise during primary and elementary graduation ceremonies, July 18, 2008.

As Sister Tina, the school's principal, called her school's highest achievers to come forward, Air Force Lieutenant Keith Ross, Ramstein Air Force Base, presented ten students with brand new soccer balls and gifts from the school.

Ross and his deployed squadron are supporting communications requirements during AFRICA ENDEAVOR-08, the multinational military communications interoperability and information exchange exercise currently underway at the Nigeria Air Force Base in Abuja. Over 225 military communicators and supporting organizations from 22 African and European nations and the United States are executing interoperability testing of command, control communications and information systems.

Community outreach is a personal initiative that many deployed squadrons undertake when assigned a temporary mission. For Ross, the idea of donating soccer balls was cemented when he asked several of his African friends what a child in Nigeria would really appreciate.

"I learned children are creative and devise soccer balls out of water-filled plastic bags," he said. "We knew soccer balls would be a huge success on a continent where soccer is played in even the smallest village."

Staff with the Office of Security Cooperation Humanitarian Assistance, U.S. Embassy, Nigeria, assisted Ross in coordinating the gift presentation. The Office of Security Cooperation has maintained an ongoing relationship with Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Hospital and Maternity Clinic and St. Therese Primary School since 2001.

Sister Tina assured Ross and his colleagues the soccer balls were in excellent hands.

"The children, ranging in age from five to eleven years of age, who were awarded the balls are successful, goal-setting students," she explained. "The ball belongs to them. It will be a constant reminder of the importance our school places on academic achievement."

Over 400 students from Bwari and the surrounding areas attend St. Therese Primary School. In addition to 23 different classes, the school has a variety of programs and clubs for children interested in scouting, farming/agriculture, science, computers, mathematics and performing arts.
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