For them space camp was a blast

Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal

Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal

Allan Huntington, 10, has always been a science nut, so he jumped at the chance to go to space camp last year.

"It was amazing," he said. "There were a lot of cool rides and a lot of learning experiences. They taught us the basic training of an astronaut. We just got a better understanding of space itself."

Now, he and his five schoolmates who attended the week-long camp last summer in Huntsville, Ala., are helping to raise money for students to go this year.

"Others could learn some things they never ever knew about," said Laura Merlin Villalobos, 10. "If they want to be a pilot, they could learn to fly and land."

The students gave small presentations during a fundraising concert Tuesday evening at the school.

"It's just a really good experience to learn more about the world around you," said Nicole Hoff, 11.

Empire Elementary School became involved with the NASA-sponsored camp in 2008 when LeAnn Morris attended as the state's Teacher of the Year.

She brought back a scholarship for one student to attend the following year. Rather than send only one, the school launched a fundraising campaign and paid for four students and two teachers to attend. Two additional students attended, with their parents picking up the bill.

School officials hope to keep the tradition going by continuing to raise money this year. Music teacher Christina Bourne organized the concert for the second year.

"I just think it's important for the kids to be involved in technology and innovation," she said. "What better way than to send them to a space camp sponsored by NASA."

To her, the connection between music and science is clear.

"Creativity is a huge part of innovation," she said. "The two go hand in hand beautifully."

The concert featured performances by vocalist Briana Valley, violinist Sue Kitts, pianist Bob the "piano man" and the Carson High School choir and jazz band.

Miss Nevada Christina Keegan also performed, as did Bourne, a former Miss Nevada. Empire Elementary School fourth-graders closed the show.

Fourth-grade teacher Rena Huntington and school counselor Roger Churchill chaperoned the students last year.

Huntington said she at first signed up to accompany her son who had been selected to attend. However, once there she realized all it had to offer her as a teacher.

"I'm the reading teacher. I'm the writing teacher," she said. "I never considered myself a science teacher. Now, coming back from science camp, I can't believe all I can do. Never in a million years did I think I could build a rocket and launch it, but there it is on my wall.

"I even made them with my class."

Parents will be notified of an informational meeting. From there, interested students will be invited to submit an application.

A panel made up of teachers, administrators, school board and community members will choose the recipients.

It costs about $1,600 per student to attend. The number of students selected will be determined by the amount of money raised.

Huntington said the process should be completed by December.


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