a special way

  • Published
  • By Noreen Hyslop
  • Managing editor, the Daily Statesman
Nick Atherton was six years old when he first spent time in the classroom of Chris Hillis as a first grader at Southwest Elementary School. A little older and perhaps a lot wiser, Atherton revisited Hillis' classroom last week on a different kind of mission than he was on back in 1985.

Hillis has since moved to a classroom of third graders, and Atherton, now 30 years old and a 12-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force, spent Veteran's Day 2009 back in her classroom, granting eight and nine- year-olds a greater appreciation for those who serve their country.

With a large duffle bag full of equipment and aids, Atherton, who is a staff sergeant with security forces in the U.S. Air Force, was a big hit with the students as he demonstrated to them what a soldier's life is like, especially while serving during war time overseas. The lessons came from one who knows. Atherton has completed three overseas tours, the first in Saudi Arabia early in 2002, returning in December of that year to Kuwait for a stretch of 149 days and most recently another tour in Saudi Arabia...

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