Coast Guard children also learn to adapt to conditions


Kristi Langenbacher


Sunday, June 17, 2018

I’ve heard the same thing over and over again. Every parent of a graduate that I have spoken to has had the same sentiment: time has just flown by.

It doesn’t seem possible that the person we still see as a little girl is now 18 years old and has graduated from high school.

It seems like just yesterday that our daughter was entering the 4-year-old classroom at Blackwell Preschool in Elizabeth City. We blinked, and she was off to kindergarten with Mrs. Jane Harris at J.C. Sawyer Elementary School.

A few years later, we transferred from Elizabeth City to Washington State, where she attended third and fourth grade. Next we moved to Northern California, for her fifth grade year, followed by yet another new school for sixth through eighth grade. Middle school was the only time our daughter spent all possible years at just one school.

She spent her freshman year in California, and we moved to Camden for her sophomore and junior year. Next was the dreaded “move before the senior year” that most military families try to avoid at all cost. But, she embraced the challenge, and we moved back to California for her senior year of high school.

Our path is similar to that of thousands of other Coast Guard families, with different locations sprinkled in. We all face similar challenges and struggles, and our children must learn to adapt. Often the most difficult part of moving so often is leaving friends behind. But, if they embrace the changes with each and every move, they can make new friends all across the country.

Military children typically change schools over and over again, which introduces a whole new set of challenges. They face different curriculum and standards, varying requirements and testing, and change upon change at each new school. And, military kids often have no choice but to take it in stride.

In fact, our daughter embraced the challenges, and worked extra hard to succeed. Teachers, academic counselors, and administrators worked hard to help with the transitions, and to keep her on a college preparatory track. At Camden County High School, she took honors and advanced placement classes which set her up for academic success prior to transferring the summer before her senior year. And, it paid off, as she graduated as the valedictorian – first in her class of more than 300 students in Northern California.

At the high school graduation ceremony, our daughter sang with many new friends, and members of the choir program at the Marin School of the Arts at Novato High School. The soon-to-be graduates performed “For Good,” from the Broadway Musical “Wicked.”

It was a fitting way to end their school days, and to summarize the positive impact military kids can take from the many people they meet along the journey of their lives:

“ I've heard it said

That people come into our lives for a reason

Bringing something we must learn

And we are led

To those who help us most to grow

If we let them

And we help them in return…

So let me say before we part

So much of me

Is made of what I learned from you

You'll be with me

Like a handprint on my heart

And now whatever way our stories end

I know you have re-written mine

By being my friend...

Who can say if I've been

Changed for the better?

I do believe I have been

Changed for the better

And because I knew you...

I have been changed for good”

Kristi Langenbacher is a Coast Guard spouse and writes about military family life.