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Sunday, April 6, 2008

A Student's Dream Come True!

There is one satisfying benefit from seating students on the Voyager bridge as they ascend the spiral staircase - you hear their comments as they see the bridge for the first time. Some exclamations are worthy of repeat, if I could remember them. I'll hear something that brings a smile to my face and a rush of satisfaction and make a mental note to jot it down, only to forget a few minutes later. It is like my brain's files are full to overflowing and anything new I attempt to bulldoze in stays momentarily and then dissipates like a vapor to the wind. It is like George's wallet on Sienfield - for you fans of the show. You wonder if my mental stability parallels the condition of his wallet? Perhaps it does so think twice before pushing me too far.......... ;).
One sixth grader's comment a week ago found a resting place in the chaos of my thoughts. I want to share it with you.
"Oh my Gosh...... Oh my Gosh," he exclaimed as he slowly came up the stairs. His head turned from side to side taking in every aspect of the bridge. I was concerned that he would trip on the steps. He wasn't looking where his feet were going. The eye candy of the set was too much for his 11 year old nervous system.
"Oh my Gosh....... Oh my Gosh," he exclaimed as he stumbled right past me into the center of the bridge. I had my hand out to take his boarding pass but he didn't notice. Who was I anyway - some person?
"Oh my Gosh...... Oh my Gosh," he exclaimed as he centered himself under the 1/2 sphere on the ceiling and turned slowly - his arms semi-outstretched, resembling a pilgrim before the statue of his revered saint. I walked in front of him and asked for his boarding pass. He looked at me with a puzzled look on his face.
"Your boarding pass," I asked.
"Oh my Gosh....... Oh my Gosh," he exclaimed as he held it in the general direction of my hand. I took it from him. I looked at it. Written under his name was his position, right wing power. I took him by the shoulders and pointed him in the right direction.
"You are in the last chair of this row," I said gently while pushing him toward the right wing knowing he needed the extra energy to get his legs to move. He got half way to his chair and stopped. He turned toward me and spoke with a religious fever rarely heard even in testimony meeting.
"I want you to know that this is what I've dreamed about my whole life! I've finally made it! I'm on a Starship! OH MY GOSH!"
Although reactions to the Space Center are rarely that emotional, 99% of first timers ascending the spiral stairs are very excited and a bit overwhelmed by what they see. Can you believe that of all places on the Earth, in the middle of Pleasant Grove, not Las Vegas, not Orlando, not New York City, London, or Los Angeles there are six starships ready to take children on edventures in the universe of wonder.
Sometimes the magic of the Space Center wears thin for those of us that see it daily. I find myself looking for and seeing the imperfections. I find myself on a quest to find ways to improve the Center and our programs and then becoming disillusioned when the obstacles of money and bureaucracy act as mountainous speed bumps in the road. At those times I reflect on my memory of students coming up the spiral stairs for the first time. I shake my head to clear my thoughts and then, once again, as in the beginning - I see the forest despite the trees.

Mr. Williamson
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