WEB EXCLUSIVE: Army attack helicopter used to encourage students - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

WEB EXCLUSIVE: Army attack helicopter used to encourage students in school

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FLORENCE, SC(WMBF) Students at one Pee Dee school walked outside to find an army attack helicopter in their parking lot. One organization is giving kids the chance to learn outside the classroom, And inside an attack helicopter! But it's not just for fun.

Their visit to West Florence High School is part of a the US Army's Celebrate Freedom Foundation mission.

The goal is to improve student performance, especially for at-risk kids.

Students at one Pee Dee high school walked out to find a helicopter sitting in their parking lot.

Program organizers hope a few minutes inside the AH1 Cobra Attack Army Helicopter cock pit will keep students in school, and expose them to different career options in engineering and technology.

"I learned a lot, my experience was incredible - it was incredible," said senior Dwayne Gunn.

That's the reaction most West Florence High students had when they walked out to find an army attack helicopter sitting in the parking lot.

"This is a $10 million aircraft and the school can't afford that," said Larry Russell, board member of the Celebrate Freedom Foundation.

The army donated the chopper to the Celebrate Freedom Foundation as an educational and recruitment tool.

"To bring technology to the schools to help connect the classroom with the real-world jobs," said Jack Lovelady, president of the Celebrate Freedom Foundation.

The foundation started Project SOaR (Schools/Students Opportunities and Rewards), traveling to 'at risk schools' educating students about the different career opportunities in technology and engineering, even offering up lesson plans.

"We help provide teachers with lesson plans to teach them science, technology, engineering and math, so many schools now don't do that and we've lost a lot of industrial edge in the country because all of our technicians have gone away," said Russell.

Project SOaR directors give students the opportunity to sit in the cock pit of the chopper and teach them about all the components that help get the helicopter in flight.

"We get these kids out here and we show them if you don't want to fly, you can be a mechanic or you can work on the radios, or you can work at a paint body shop, there's all kinds of opportunities that you can do in the military and get a pre-career," said Russell.

And some students say this experience may even change their career paths.

"I would actually work for this, this is really interesting and it would make me change my mind," said junior Vincent Hsu.

Now students can continue with this experience.

Project SOaR directors tell me they are offering scholarships for an aviational space summer program for high school students.

The SOaR tour continues Friday at Dillon High school.

Copyright 2012 WMBF News. All rights reserved.

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