Exceptional kids have exceptional trip on WAAF

| February 28, 2013 | 0 Comments
1st Lt. Cortney Heaps (third from left), 65th Eng. Bn., 130th Eng. Bde., 8th TSC, poses for a photo with students and teachers from Po‘okela Center for Education Excellence, as well as Evergreen workers, at the end of the school's field trip to WAAF, Feb. 13. (Photo courtesy 65th Engineer Battalion Public Affairs, 130th Eng. Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command)

1st Lt. Cortney Heaps (third from left), 65th Eng. Bn., 130th Eng. Bde., 8th TSC, poses for a photo with students and teachers from Po‘okela Center for Education Excellence, as well as Evergreen workers, at the end of the school’s field trip to WAAF, Feb. 13. (Photo courtesy 65th Engineer Battalion Public Affairs, 130th Eng. Brigade,
8th Theater Sustainment Command)

1st Lt. Cortney Heaps
65th Engineer Battalion, 130th Eng. Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command

WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD — Soldiers from the 65th Engineer Battalion, 130th Eng. Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, escorted students from the Po‘okela Center for Educational Excellence on a field trip here, Feb. 13, to meet the people who work for Evergreen Helicopters.

The center, located at Mililani Middle School, concentrates on special education development.

Kainoa Vallente, a student with the Po‘okela Center for Educational Excellence, sits in the pilot seat during the school's recent field trip to WAAF. (1st Lt. Cortney Heaps, 65th Engineer Battalion Public Affairs, 130th Eng. Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command)

Kainoa Vallente, a student with the Po‘okela Center for Educational Excellence, sits in the pilot seat during the school’s recent field trip to WAAF. (1st Lt. Cortney Heaps, 65th Engineer Battalion Public Affairs, 130th Eng. Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command)

The excitement was almost too much to contain in one van. Children talked to one another as the sounds of the band One Direction blared through headphones of another student.

All the while, the teachers smiled, because they realized that their students would be able to do something that they might never have the opportunity to do again.

Marine Capt. Graham Perry, a reservist in the Marine Corps, awaited the students’ arrival. As soon as the students stepped off the van, they ran up to him and leaped with joy as they proceeded to the helicopter.

“I can see the helicopter!” said student Kainoa Vallente. “I want to fly helicopters and do what you guys do!”

Throughout the trip, Perry explained the major ins and outs of helicopters. Students interacted with staff and climbed all over the helicopters, including into the pilot seat.

“Communication skills are very important to the children, and just getting them out and socializing is more than we can ask for,” said Malia Seward, primary teacher for the students. “Plus, they just love getting out of the classroom.”

Smiles and laughter filled the helicopter as children explored every nook and cranny.

According to Seward, to see the excitement that consumed the children’s faces while they experienced something for the first time was a priceless moment for everyone.

Indeed, the students were in high spirits the entire time and would have stayed the entire day, if Evergreen had had the time.

“Anything that we can do to help is our pleasure,” said Perry. “They are having the best time.”

Primary teacher Malia Seward stands with student Kainoa Vallente as he gets ready to climb inside a helicopter.

Primary teacher Malia Seward stands with student Kainoa Vallente as he gets ready to climb inside a helicopter.

The 65th Eng. Bn. sponsors Mililani Middle School, and Maj. Shawn Patrick, former training officer for the 65th Eng. Bn., 130th Eng. Bn., arranged the helicopter experience after receiving a little written encouragement from Seward’s class.

The students wrote Patrick a letter saying how excited they were for a helicopter experience. Once he received the letter, he immediately called a friend from Evergreen Helicopters, and a few short weeks later, he made sure that his promise was fulfilled.

The children left the helicopter visit with dreams fulfilled and communication skills improved. Teachers were able to take a break, as well.

The military and the 65th Eng. Bn. are thanked all the time for their service, but the teachers are far too often overlooked, said Soldiers of the 65th.

The 65th Engineers thank the teachers of Mililani Middle School and Po‘okela Center for Educational Excellence for their hard work. Their dedication to children does not go unnoticed.

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Category: Community, Community Relations, Education

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