Deployment won’t prevent some parents from watching their children graduate with the class of 2008 at Department of Defense Dependent Schools across Europe.

DODDS-Europe, along with the U.S. Army Europe and the Army’s 5th Signal Command, is providing a video-link for servicemembers in Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries. The link will enable them to watch their children’s graduation ceremonies live this June.

So far, 18 ceremonies are slated to be carried on live Webcasts over the Internet for 211 parents of DODDS high school seniors. The ceremonies take place between June 5 and June 13 according to DODDS.

"It means a lot to me because, unlike most military children, it’s my mom that’s deployed," said Veronica Alvarado, a 17-year-old senior at Naples High School in Italy. Her mother is an Army lieutenant colonel, currently deployed to Afghanistan.

"I understand her duty to the country, but I’m her youngest child, and missing the ceremony would be hard on her. Being able to see it makes the separation between us easier," Alvarado said.

For 18-year-old Brooke Singleton, whose father is a Navy senior chief petty officer deployed to Iraq, the video link gives greater purpose to the ceremony.

"It means a lot to me because he’s always been there for me. Just knowing that he’ll be able to watch me get my diploma is pretty special," Singleton said.

This is the fifth year DODDS Europe has provided the video link for deployed parents.

Planning for the Webcast began in January, as students with deployed, or soon-to-be-deployed parents during graduation month, were identified. In addition to viewing the graduation ceremony, students are providing video messages that can be viewed during the ceremony.

"Obviously it’s an emotional event for the students and parents," said Roberta Pennasilico, the co-sponsor for Naples’ senior class. "It’s important for these students to have their parents at the ceremony, even via the Internet, so they won’t feel isolated from the rest of the students. It will be a bit different, but it’s really important."

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