Monday, February 17, 2014

Students From Three Orangeburg School Districts Will See STEM Teaching in Action

Larry Russell, Celebrate Freedom Foundation, instructs Maudlin High School students about the inside of an aircraft.
Orangeburg County consolidated school districts will host a four-day Celebrate Freedom Foundation SOaR™ (Student/School Opportunities and Rewards) Program at Bethune-Bowman Middle/High School in Rowesville for approximately 1,000 local students from Feb. 18 to 21. The school is located at 4857 Charleston Highway between Rowesville and Bowman.

CFF’s Project SOaR™ is an educational outreach program that supports STEM courses (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) in middle and high schools. The program also informs students of the opportunities that are available to them, particularly in the field of aviation.

“STEM subjects are not just important, they are essential to the success of millions of children who hope for a profitable future,” said Dr. Russell David, CFF’s Aviation/Aerospace Education Director.  “Orangeburg County school officials realize the importance of having their students exposed to the benefits and career opportunities that come from having knowledge in and of STEM subjects. We’re living in the Age of Technology, and the Celebrate Freedom Foundation wants to inform students and their parents of the importance of STEM courses as early as primary school, so that students still have time to benefit from taking such courses.”

Students from Orangeburg County Consolidated School District Three will visit Bethune-Bowman Middle/High School on Feb. 18, students from District Five will visit the school on Feb. 19, and students from District 4 will visit the school on Feb. 20.  Students from these three Orangeburg County consolidated school districts will then visit the school again for graduation day on Feb. 21.

Students will:

Be given specific reasons why they should stay in school and concentrate on STEM courses

Learn the importance of college and value of other educational opportunities, such as technical schools and those provided by the U.S. Military

Meet people, including pilots and instructors, who have succeeded in the aviation/aerospace industry and

Learn about the income they can expect to earn if they work in the aviation/aerospace industry, as early as two years after graduating from high school.

Each day, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., CFF will display its AH-1 Cobra Attack Helicopter, Annie. CFF will also display an R44 Raven helicopter and a UH-1H Huey helicopter from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on graduation day, Feb. 21.  CFF personnel, including pilots and instructors, will talk with students each of the four days.

Orangeburg County Fire, EMS and SWAT personnel will setup displays and talk with students as well. Representatives of the Civil Air Patrol (CAP), including a rocketry expert, will setup displays and explain CAP’s STEM initiative. Sunshine Solutions of Orangeburg will show one of its monster wrecking machines. 

CFF has arranged for a UH-1H Huey helicopter to fly-in at 10 a.m. as approximately 1,000 students gather on bleachers at the school’s football stadium on Feb 21. Joe Rich, President and CEO of Sunshine Recycling of Orangeburg, and other parachutists — including soldiers of the 82nd Airborne — will also parachute, carrying the U.S., S.C. and POW flags, and land on the school’s football field in front of the students.

Dr. Jacqueline H. Inabinette, Executive Director of Federal Programs and Student Services, Orangeburg County Consolidated School District Five, said the upcoming CFF SOaR™ visit is important, because it is an “out-of-the-box experience” for our students and teachers designed to help ensure continued success for students.

“The most important lessons I hope parents, students and others will learn as a result of the visit,” Inabinette added, “is the importance of our young people investing in STEM courses from their kindergarten through high school years to create a strong academic foundation.  These courses are equally as important as reading, writing and arithmetic to equip our children with the knowledge and skills needed to perform at a college and/or career-ready-level upon graduation from high school. The upcoming SOaR™ visit will enhance career exploration, awareness and career decisions that some students might not have thought about as career opportunities.”

Rich said the unique approach that the CFF SOaR™ program takes toward STEM subjects, and its ability to inspire students is key to the program’s success. “A SOaR™ visit ignites that fire,” he said. “It really inspires kids to see beyond where they are at a particular age and where they possibly would like to be, and translates that back to the classroom.  This encourages students to make decisions and select courses at an age that will help them build toward their career goals.”

The U.S. Military already recognizes the importance of STEM courses.
Capt. Joseph E. Texidor, commander of U.S. Army’s Augusta (Ga.) Recruiting Company, and Sgt. 1st Class Heather Pippin, commander of the U.S. Army’s Orangeburg Recruiting Center, plan to attend the CFF SOaR™ event.

“The Celebrate Freedom Foundation — with its pilots, instructors and helicopters — is especially well-suited to motivate students,” Texidor said, “because students will be able to learn first-hand from the pilots and instructors the complexities of these amazing machines — how they fly, the physics involved and about all of the mechanical parts that make these machines work.  For students, it’s very thrilling to actually be able to see and put their hands on something like a helicopter.”

Pippin said STEM subjects are very important to what the U.S. Army does today, and that such subjects will become more important to the Army in the future. “Subjects like science, technology, engineering and math are in high demand,” she added, “and students, who dedicate themselves to these subjects, will find that many opportunities will open up to them.  They’ll become successful at finding jobs.”

Sponsoring the upcoming CFF SOaR™ visit are the U.S. Army, Joe Rich of Sunshine Recycling of Orangeburg, and Orangeburg County Consolidated school districts.
The helicopter and instructors will appear next at South Carolian schools in the Upstate the last week of February and then in the Low Country in the first week of March.

For more information about this week's activities, contact Bill Clark, Orangeburg Consolidated School District Five Director of Public Relations at 803-533-7925 or

For more inforation about CFF, contact Stuart Morgan Celebrate Freedom Foundation Director of Public Affairs 803-465-1975 or

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