Good field trips that teach something of value are hard to find, but a local middle school hit a home run when they snagged the opportunity to have students tour Nellis Air Force Base.
Each quarter, 15 students from Rosemary Clarke Middle School are selected for a field trip to tour the base, and last Wednesday was Nellis time.
The trip is part of an awards program established four years ago by the base and the middle school called, “The Students Aim High Award.”
Each year the school takes 60 students a year with 240 students making the trip in the past.
Middle School Assistant Principal Greg Severts said the students who win the award are not necessarily your A and B students, but they are students who work hard. They also don’t need to have an interest in the military to go.
“If you want to be a teacher, or an electrician you can work on a military base,” he said. “It is an exclusive tour and a neat experience for the kids designed to show them that hard work pays off in life.”
The students are taken to areas of the base like the fire department, the flight line, the K-9 facility and the Thunderbird Museum.
The goal is to show students that hard work pays off and to provide positive role models to the students. The trip is geared to opening the student’s eyes to different possibilities in life. It is easy to lose sight of your goals in school so the underlying message is that you have to perform well in the classroom if you want to succeed in life.
Severts said there are ample opportunities to have interaction with the tour guides.
“We have a sit-down session for the kids to ask questions,” Severts said. “The kids would ask the Air force personnel how they got to where they are today and usually the response is, “I turned in all my homework and was on time to school.”
What the trip is not, is a recruiting tool for the Air Force.
“That is tricky, but we try to show them there is a relationship as far as working hard and then you can do whatever you want someday,” he said.
Sixth grade social studies teacher Adam Lightfoot started this award four years ago.
He agrees with Severts and says the trip is definitely for students who have a plan.
“These kids usually have their goals and kind of know what they want to do,” Lightfoot said. “It helps kids get in their heads what they need to do to succeed.”
The whole idea of the trip came from the Air Force said Lightfoot.
“I had a friend who was an Air Force officer and he was stationed at the base,” he said. “He and I started hanging out together and he brought up the idea of a field trip of the base. The idea was really just to give kids an opportunity to see what was out there and to expose them to a variety of work fields on the base.”
An Air Force base operates similar to a miniature city. All the services you see in a city are duplicated to some extent on the base.
“Everything on the base is pretty analogous to a civilian component, whether it’s the fire department or the police department,” he said. “In the past, we got to tour the K-9 facilities and this would be good for the kids who want to work with animals.”
According to Lightfoot, the school just takes 15 instead of a bus load. The reason being, the original Nellis contact wanted to retain a personal relationship with the students. “Having a smaller crowd you have a more intimate setting where the kids can react with the guides,” Lightfoot said.
Sixth grader Andrew Avena’s favorite part of the tour was getting to see up close some military equipment.
“I got to climb on the military vehicles and I learned it takes a lot of responsibility to be in the military,” he said. “Being in the military there are a lot of responsibilities and it’s not all fun.”
Sixth grader Avalyn Severts enjoyed learning about the military vehicles, too.
“I learned that the Air Force works hard and protects our country,” she said. “And It takes a lot of commitment to be in the military.”