Local News

Golden Knights pay tribute to teachers at Hoke County school

Posted September 8, 2020 4:58 p.m. EDT

— Students and teachers at Rockfish Hoke Elementary in Raeford were treated to a performance by the Golden Knights on Tuesday.

The parachuting military unit descended upon the area, providing a distraction and inspiration in the midst of what has been an unusual start to the school year.

Molly Vaughn teaches first grade.

"They show such dedication and hard work to follow your dreams," Vaughn said. "No matter what you do in life, whether it be a teacher or it being in the military."

Hoke County, next door to Fort Bragg -- where the Golden Knights are based -- opened its schools this year.

"It's been a little different," said second-grader Alanna Moore.

The Army's parachute team knows the gravity of these times, which is why kindergarten teacher Breanne Veal feels so lifted up by them.

"It has something our students can look forward to and also relate to," she said.

But, who's inspiring who?

Sergeant First Class Chad Riddlebaugh is a Golden Knight, and he says the crowd of teachers below helps him feel energized.

"For me, it's really motivating when I can hear the roar of the crowd as I'm flying my parachute over," he said. "It really pumps me up and makes everything [so] worth it."

When a virus seems to have shrunk our horizon, along come knights with golden canopies, free falling and giving sharp focus to those watching.

"It was really cool," Moore said. "No, I would not," she added emphatically when asked if she'd ever like to jump out of a plane.

It was a rare treat for the school community. The Golden Knights usually put on about 40 shows per year, but have only done about eight this year due to COVID-19.

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