Kids of wounded warriors to remain at Bethesda school

WASHINGTON – It was too much for families to take when the kids of wounded warriors recovering at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center found they were assigned to new schools. So, they made a special request for a change of assignment.

Before this year, children living on base at Naval Support Activity Bethesda were assigned to Bethesda Elementary. But a recent boundary change would have divided the group for the current school year.

“Currently, Walter Reed’s attendance zone has students going to Rosemary Hills for K through two and then going to North Chevy Chase,” says Montgomery County schools spokesman Dana Tofig.

After explaining the relationship the families had with Bethesda Elementary, the Board of Education granted the nine students a transfer.

“We obviously don’t want to upset these students’ lives anymore than they already may have been,” Tofig says.

Capt. David Bitonti, who is the commanding officer of Navy Support Activity Bethesda, says having siblings together and the base community together in one school makes all the difference in the kids’ ability to succeed.

“Certainly the need for any kind of stabilization during a very unstable time is critical, not only to the emotional development of children but also their educational progress,” Bitonti says.

The school board is studying the impact the few extra students will have on the already crowded school.

Bethesda Elementary is slated to have an eight-classroom extension added to the building in 2015.

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