By Scott Mann
It is just after 12 Noon on Friday afternoon on May 27. A group of parents have been working all morning to prepare for the fifth grade end of school party, and now it is in full swing. We managed to feed them and now it’s party time. I think I just handed out so much pizza to crazed fifth graders that I threw my back out.
This is my last child to graduate Cimino Elementary School.
I let my thoughts drift back to our Cimino experience over the years. It was the fall of 2006, my wife and three little “Mann Cubs” moved from Fort Bragg, N.C. to Valrico – Somerset subdivision to be exact – where I would be assigned to U.S. Special Operations Command on MacDill Air Force Base.
I still had sand on my combat boots from numerous Afghanistan deployments. Our little family, like so many military families back then, was exhausted. We were still stinging from long days of separation, loss of friends to war, and missed birthdays.
Now, with my oldest son going into his junior year in high school, my middle son going into his last year in middle school, and my little one about to “clap out” at Cimino, memories came flooding back. What made this place called Cimino so special?
Cimino is the embodiment of community. It’s what every parent seeks for their child. It starts with school administrators, creating the right environment, fearlessly and without political correctness. Its teachers, whom I consider dear friends, and parents who are like my own family, working together to raise our children and show them the true path – One voice -One vision.
Even when I had to go back to the dark places, like Afghanistan, Cimino always had my back with the Cougar Corp. Program. They helped my boys, and so many other military kids, cope with military stresses by doing activities and spending time with other kids who were going through the same challenges.
But now, it’s time clap out. It’s time to line up on that sidewalk. It’s time for all of us big people, to swallow hard, breathe deep, and get ready for those bright-eyed, beautiful little fifth graders to come barreling out of that door and sprinting into their future.
As I reach my hand out for a quick high five from my little boy and all his pals, I’ll feel a sense of peace.
My family will always carry Cimino in our hearts as a shining example of what community should be. The Mann boys are more ready than ever for their future.
Next year, there will be a brand new batch of misty eyed moms, dads and grandparents ready to clap their children out to the challenging and ever-changing future…and once again, Cimino will deliver the “Cool Cats” to do it!
Thanks Cimino – Go COUGARS!