Two parents to watch graduation from afar

June 11, 2009|By JENNIFER FITCH

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- Col. Teresa Gallagher and Master Sgt. Harold Miller will join hundreds of other parents watching Friday night as their Chambersburg Area Senior High School teenagers receive diplomas -- only they will be looking at a video broadcast from their base in Tallil, Iraq.

Gallagher's son, Dan Godlasky, and Miller's son, Joshua Miller, are among more than 600 seniors graduating from the high school Friday night. Gallagher and Harold Miller serve in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard's 28th Aviation Brigade, of which Gallagher is the commander.

School officials partnered with the U.S. Army to establish a video feed that not only will transmit the ceremony around the world, but also allow the sons to talk to their parents beforehand.

"I appreciate everything everyone was doing to get this ready," Dan said. "It really means a lot for me to be able to see my mom."


Dan, 18, said his mother left shortly after Easter for her first Middle East deployment in her 25-year military career. He moved in with his grandparents, who will support him in person at the ceremony along with his father, stepmother, aunt, cousin, and lacrosse coach and the coach's wife.

Dan participated in a videoconference last year and started asking school staff members whether he could be connected to his mother for graduation. Through the process, the family discovered Joshua's father was in the same unit.

Everyone involved in the effort was unsure until recently whether the videoconference would work, especially because the Iraq location changed. A satellite feed has been established and made available to others who are deployed.

"We are so honored to assist these distinguished Americans in taking part in their sons' graduation ceremony through the use of technology," said Christine Wolgemuth, instructional technology mentor for the school district.

Dan said he communicates with his mother once a week or once every two weeks using e-mail or Skype software. He plans to enter the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y.

"My mom's obviously proud I'm graduating and going off to college," Dan said. "I think she'll be sad she can't be here."

However, he speculated his mother already is thinking about a family occasion this fall.

"I think she's most excited to come home in October and see us," he said.

The Herald-Mail was unable to contact Joshua Miller.

The Herald-Mail Articles