First-graders at Hempfield school Skype with Army officer in Afghanistan
All that student Vincent Moffa had was a simple question: “How are you doing?”
The reply from Army Maj. Kyriakos Sarafis was short and to the point.
“I got a few more months and then will be home with my family,” he said on Friday from Afghanistan to a group of first-graders crowded around a computer in Maxwell Elementary School in Hempfield.
Teacher Kristen Meharra's students sat patiently while Sarafis read them a book, then raised their hands to answer his reading comprehension questions. Sarafis and the group communicate monthly via the Internet video-calling service Skype.
In November, Meharra's class made a book of thank-you letters and a care package for Sarafis' troops for Veterans Day. Since then, they have been communicating regularly and Skyped for the second time on Friday.
“I think this whole project's been beneficial” for students in putting to work skills they've learned in class, Meharra said. “At the same time, they're also putting smiles on the faces of soldiers that are over there.”
Sarafis found plenty of reasons to smile while fielding questions and singing “Happy Birthday” to one of Meharra's students.
Peyton Heisler asked if he has a television. Sarafis replied that he does, but it's only for watching DVDs.
Shane Johnson asked if he flies an airplane. Sarafis replied that he only rides.
Things got a little heavier when Georgia Bailey asked if any children get injured in Afghanistan.
“From time to time, some kids do get injured because there's bad guys out there,” Sarafis said.
The major noted that children and adults are more educated and more schools have opened since troops arrived in Afghanistan in 2001 to free the country from terrorist organizations. He and his troops “coach and teach” the Afghan army.
“A lot of good things are happening here for the children,” he said.
Meanwhile, his own children — ages 8, 3 and 18 months — are living in North Huntingdon with his wife, Nicolle. Both are from the Pittsburgh area but had been living on a base in Oklahoma before she moved to be closer to their families.
Nicolle Sarafis said her husband's nine-month deployment should end in July.
“We get to talk to him (on Skype) about every day,” she said.
Still, it's not the same.
“I miss my wife very much. I can't wait to give her (and my children) a big hug and kiss,” he told the students.
Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-837-5374 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Hempfield bicyclist gets one last chance from Westmoreland County judge
- State Supreme Court rejects latest Foxley Farm appeal in Ligonier Township dispute
- Former Jeannette High wrestling coach held for trial on charges of assault on teen girls
- Purple Heart recipient Krinock to lead July Fourth parade in Latrobe
- Independence Day events for Westmoreland County
- Smithton man gets 6-12 years for robbery in Jeannette
- Urgent care center planned in Donegal Township
- Group takes veterans, seniors in WWII-era planes at Unity airport
- Greensburg senior care center salutes veterans
- Greensburg’s Trinity United Church of Christ sprucing up
- Three teens injured in one-vehicle crash in Hempfield