2nd annual school fair reaches out to MAFB families

Nichole Travis, spouse of Staff Sgt. Ryan Travis, 341st Civil Engineer Squadron member, right, talks to Stephanie Bautista, Great Falls Public Schools district food supervisor, during the second annual GFPS Information Fair at the Grizzly Bend on Aug. 12. Bautista explained the lunch menu at Loy Elementary School. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Katrina Heikkinen)

Nichole Travis, spouse of Staff Sgt. Ryan Travis, 341st Civil Engineer Squadron member, right, talks to Stephanie Bautista, Great Falls Public Schools district food supervisor, during the second annual GFPS Information Fair at the Grizzly Bend on Aug. 12. Bautista explained the lunch menu at Loy Elementary School. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Katrina Heikkinen)

Airman 1st Class Radames Leon Ayala, 341st Security Forces Squadron member, and his wife, Soheyshalie, talk to Ruth Uecker, Great Falls Public Schools assistant superintendent for kindergarten through sixth grade, during the second annual GFPC Information Fair at the Grizzly Bend on Aug. 12. Ayala and his wife attended the fair to register their son in kindergarten. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Katrina Heikkinen)

Airman 1st Class Radames Leon Ayala, 341st Security Forces Squadron member, and his wife, Soheyshalie, talk to Ruth Uecker, Great Falls Public Schools assistant superintendent for kindergarten through sixth grade, during the second annual GFPC Information Fair at the Grizzly Bend on Aug. 12. Ayala and his wife attended the fair to register their son in kindergarten. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Katrina Heikkinen)

MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. -- When asked why they joined the U.S. Air Force, a common answer among Airmen is "to travel."

While many Airmen are fortunate - or less fortunate - to receive orders to a new assignment; uprooting a family and moving to a different district, state or country can sometimes be a stressful experience.

To help make the transition for Airmen, their spouses and children as stress-free as possible, the Airman and Family Readiness Center teamed up with Great Falls Public Schools to host their second annual GFPS Information Fair at the Grizzly Bend at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. on Aug. 12.

"This is the second year that Great Falls Public Schools has partnered with Malmstrom to offer an informational fair for families that are either moving into Great Falls for the first time, returning or need some information on the programs in our school district for their children," said Tom Moore, GFPS assistant superintendent.

Informational booths included representatives from kindergarten through grade six, middle school and high school, as well as food services, transportation, employment opportunities and on-and off-base afterschool programs.

"Families can actually come here to this informational fair and register their children," said Dawn Beal, 341st Force Support Squadron, Airman and Family Readiness Center community readiness consultant and school liaison officer. "That's a big concern as the school liaison officer - I get a lot of emails from people on base asking when they can register their children, and because the schools downtown are closed up until a week before school starts, that can be stressful on top of a move. This really helps families transition to Malmstrom so they can enjoy the rest of their summer. Last year we had completely positive feedback. Families were so grateful for this opportunity so this is definitely something we'll keep doing every year."

Although not all Airmen and their families could attend the yearly fair, the GFPS' website provides a military-friendly network with information.

"We enhanced it this year, and we continue to make improvements on the fair," Moore said. "Hosting an information fair like this is very important. By hosting this fair, it allows military families to get a jumpstart so they don't worry so much about where their child is going to school. Another thing we did to enhance their transition was improve the Great Falls Public Schools' website for military families in Great Falls. There's an elaborate network of information on the website for military transferred families as well. Team Malmstrom folks have been great partners for our school districts."

For more information, call Dawn Beal at 731-4900 or visit the GFPS website at http://www.gfps.k12.mt.us/.