Vineville gives special sendoff to staff member

Bethanie Kitchens says she gets to live out her dreams of serving in the military.

MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT)– Students and staff gathered outside of Vineville Academy in Macon Friday morning to give one of their own a “star-spangled” sendoff.

Bethanie Kitchens has worked at Vineville for the last four years, and has always dreamed of being in the military.

Now her dreams are coming true, as she’s leaving the school to join the United States Air Force. Her colleagues say she has been more than just a coworker.

“I would say that she’s a servant leader, that she’s always giving, she sees something that needs to be done and she just does it,” said Principal, Kristy Graham.

Students gave her a grand send-off with music, gifts, confetti and artwork they made.

“I’m going to keep them, I know I won’t be able to take them all to basic with me but I’ll put them in storage,” Kitchens said. “I’ll read them until I leave.”

Fifth grader Jael Smith says Kitchens is her favorite person at school. Jael says although it’s hard to say goodbye, she’s proud Ms. Kitchens is doing something that will make her happy.

“I wish she could stay but it’s a great thing for her to do,” Smith explained.

Although this was a send-off ceremony, teachers and staff say this is not goodbye.

“We not only want to be pen pals with her but we wanna be pen pals with her whole squadron,” Principal Graham said. “We have 500 children, so we would love to use that to our advantage to be friends with our armed forces.”

Kitchens wants her students to be inspired by her journey and continue following their hearts.

“Learn as much as you can, be the best that you can and do whatever it is that your heart desires,” she said.

Kitchens leaves for basic training in San Antonio, Texas on August 30. That’s where she will train to become a Crew Chief tor Tactical Aircraft Maintenance.

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