Special to Galveston - Published December 20, 2009
Photo by Jennifer Reynolds
Published December 20, 2009
GALVESTON — When Space Shuttle Discovery lifts off in March, it will carry onboard the cloth emblem of a Galveston charter school and the well wishes of 40 students, on hand to view the event live at Cape Canaveral.
The Ambassadors Preparatory Academy group will set out for Florida during spring break.
They’ll make a stop in Disney World, then head for Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral, where astronaut Stephanie Wilson has arranged for the children to sit in the launch viewing area March 18.
Fundraising efforts are under way now to raise $25,000 for the trip by chartered bus. The cost will be $500 per child.
“This could be just a phenomenal trip for our students,” Dr. Patricia Williams, school principal, said. “This is part of our mission, to extend learning beyond the classroom.”
The principal, a frequent field trip leader to Space Center Houston, knew Wilson through their church, Reedy Chapel A.M.E. in Galveston.
“She was saying, ‘I know your children are interested in these projects, so would you like for the children to get involved?’
“I said, ‘Absolutely,’” Williams recalled.
The astronaut, veteran of two shuttle missions, contacted the school in October.
“NASA will allow me to fly a memento for groups or organizations with which I have had a personal association or related interest,” Wilson wrote. “I would like to recognize your support by flying a small, special item that is representative of your organization for presentation to your organization at a later date.”
Ambassadors Preparatory staff prepared a cloth memento, the school seal set on a black cloth, measuring about 1 square foot. Then Wilson made an additional offer the school couldn’t refuse — inviting a group from the school to attend the launch.
Students will be selected from grades three through six, with preference to sixth graders. Academic achievement and good behavior will be additional criteria. Ten adult chaperones will accompany the children.
As in all Ambassador Preparatory excursions, the trip will be a teachable moment.
“We want the children to get a feel for the importance of the space program,” Williams said.
Students will keep journals, take pictures with disposable cameras, study states along their route, work math problems on distances traveled both by charter bus and by space shuttle, and work on social skills during the five-day trip.
Students also will learn about the international crew for the mission, STS 131.
Crew member Wilson will be along for her third spaceflight aboard Discovery. A native of Boston, she was selected by NASA in 1996. She has logged more than 28 days in space in missions in 2006 and 2007.
She will place the Ambassadors Preparatory cloth emblem in a flight kit onboard the spacecraft. Upon return, Wilson will present the cloth to the students to be framed.
Williams hopes the framed emblem will have a dual message, about dreams realized and dreams to come.
“Our school seal is an eagle, soaring for excellence,” she said.
“It shows the importance of reaching your highest goal.”
At A Glance
WHAT: Ambassadors Preparatory Academy fundraisers for its trip to see the Space Shuttle Discovery launch in March. Fundraising programs for the Florida trip include raffles sale of inventions by gifted and talented students at the school; restaurant dinner fundraisers, with dates to be announced; and individual donations on three levels. Donors can support a group of students for $500 each, or a single student for $500, or make any financial contribution.
DETAILS: Checks are payable to Ambassadors Preparatory Academy, 5001 Ave. U, Galveston, TX 77551. Note that the funds are for “Ambassadors Launch to Discovery.” Donors who wish to join the list of Friends of APA should give contact information.
CONTACT: Call 409-762-1115 or e-mail pawill(at)sbcglobal.net
LAUNCH: Space Shuttle Mission STS-131 is scheduled to launch on March 18 aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery. Astronauts will rendezvous with the International Space Station and install a logistics module, bringing critical supplies and experiments to the station. They will also conduct spacewalks focusing on recharging the cooling system on the space station.
DETAILS: Ambassadors Preparatory Academy is a nonprofit, Texas Education Agency approved charter school for all students in grades pre-kindergarten through sixth grade living in Galveston, Hitchcock, La Marque, Santa Fe and Texas City. The school’s accountability rating names it a “recognized” school by the state, with a commendation for its science program, gold performance acknowledgment in attendance, and a commendation on comparable improvement for reading-English language arts and math for performance. Enrollment is open to a diverse student population. There is no tuition charge.
ON THE WEB: apagalv.org