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97th FSS goes above and beyond to keep the mission soaring

Students from Altus Air Force Base and the local community eat pizza at the Galaxy Grill and Lanes, April 5, 2018, on Altus AFB, Okla.

Students from Altus Air Force Base and the local community eat pizza at the Galaxy Grill and Lanes, April 5, 2018, on Altus AFB, Okla. The 97th Force Support Squadron Youth Center is supporting parents and students during the abrupt school closures by extending the hours of operation of the youth center so that the children have somewhere safe and educational to stay while base employees work. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kenneth W. Norman)

A student from the Altus Air Force Base Youth Center eats pizza at the Galaxy Grill and Lanes, April 5, 2018, on Altus AFB, Okla.

A student from the Altus Air Force Base Youth Center eats pizza at the Galaxy Grill and Lanes, April 5, 2018, on Altus AFB, Okla. The 97th Force Support Squadron Youth Center is supporting parents and students during the abrupt school closures by extending the hours of operation of the youth center so that the children have somewhere safe and educational to stay while base employees work. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kenneth W. Norman)

A student from the Altus Air Force Base Youth Center bowls at the Galaxy Grill and Lanes, April 5, 2018, on Altus AFB, Okla.

A student from the Altus Air Force Base Youth Center bowls at the Galaxy Grill and Lanes, April 5, 2018, on Altus AFB, Okla. The 97th Force Support Squadron Youth Center is supporting parents and students during the abrupt school closures by extending the hours of operation of the youth center so that the children have somewhere safe and educational to stay while base employees work. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kenneth W. Norman)

Students from Altus Air Force Base and the local community eat pizza at the Galaxy Grill and Lanes, April 5, 2018, on Altus AFB, Okla.

Students from Altus Air Force Base and the local community eat pizza at the Galaxy Grill and Lanes, April 5, 2018, on Altus AFB, Okla. The 97th Force Support Squadron Youth Center is supporting parents and students during the abrupt school closures by extending the hours of operation of the youth center so that the children have somewhere safe and educational to stay while base employees work. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kenneth W. Norman)

A student from the Altus Air Force Base Youth Center, crosses her fingers while bowling at the Galaxy Grill and Lanes, April 5, 2018, on Altus AFB, Okla.

A student from the Altus Air Force Base Youth Center, crosses her fingers while bowling at the Galaxy Grill and Lanes, April 5, 2018, on Altus AFB, Okla. The 97th Force Support Squadron Youth Center is supporting parents and students affected by the abrupt school closures by extending the hours of operation of the youth center so that they have somewhere safe and educational to stay while base employees work. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kenneth W. Norman)

Students from the Altus Air Force Base Youth Center watch to see how many pins they knock down while bowling at the Galaxy Grill and Lanes, April 5, 2018, on Altus AFB, Okla.

Students from the Altus Air Force Base Youth Center watch to see how many pins they knock down while bowling at the Galaxy Grill and Lanes, April 5, 2018, on Altus AFB, Okla. The 97th Force Support Squadron Youth Center is supporting parents and students during the abrupt school closures by extending the hours of operation of the youth center so that the children have somewhere safe and educational to stay while base employees work. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kenneth W. Norman)

ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. --

During recent turmoil in the Oklahoma education system, the 97th Force Support Squadron has stepped up to help provide a place for the school-age children of Altus AFB employees.

“When we found out that the teacher strike was a possibility, base leadership as well as the [Youth Center] director and I got together to decide how many children we could accommodate,” said Diana Tate, training and curriculum specialist assigned to the 97th FSS Youth Center. “We decided that we could accommodate 48 children to come into our program.”

Normally during the school year the Youth Center opens at 6:30 a.m., feeds children breakfast and then drops them off at school. During the school day, most of the Youth Center staff is either attending college classes or second jobs. The students are then picked up from school and taken back to the Youth Center for after school programs.

The employees of the 97th FSS Youth Center were able to temporarily flex their schedules in order to accommodate students all day, thus allowing their parents to continue working, and the critical Wing mission to continue.

“We need to support our parents and make sure that they have a place for their children to go that is safe, educational and fun,” said Tate. “We have tried to provide that for them so that they can still go and do their jobs and accomplish their mission for the base and community.”

Members of the 97th FSS worked together to provide enjoyable activities for the children. The 97th FSS opened the bowling alley during the afternoon, offered a children’s menu at Club Altus, as well as opened the base movie theater for an age-appropriate afternoon matinee in order to provide entertainment options to school-age children during the abrupt school closures.