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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Requiem for a Park City Class....

One month ago a class of gifted fifth graders from Park City’s three elementary schools were scheduled to come to the Space Center for a field trip. It was a select group. Only a few were chosen from each school to make up their numbers. struck.

Swine flu was found in one Park City school two days before their field trip. The day before their trip the Superintendent canceled school to prevent an outbreak. I got a call that day canceling the field trip to the Space Center. One week later we rescheduled the trip for May 20th.

Today is May 20th. Twenty very excited Park City students arrived at the Space Center at 3:15 P.M. with Boarding Passes in hand. They were ready for the EdVenture of a lifetime. I was excited to see them. I knew they had to go the extra mile to be chosen to attend this special field trip. It was an honor to have them with us.

At 4:00 P.M. I was finishing my Bridge speech. I was explaining their role as actors in our unscripted play. Suddenly I heard a snap. It was the sound an electrical breaker makes when its tripped. The main viewer disappeared along with the televisions. In a second I realized we were experiencing a power outage. Just as I understood the consequences the rest of the electrical equipment went out. We were in a partial dark. The only visible light came from the emergency battery lights on the exit signs.
“OK everyone stay seated,” I said to the class. I heard my staff laughing from the control room. The door to the bridge opened and my two Supervisors came up the stairs.
“The power went out,” Spencer explained. I look at him wondering if he realized the stupidity of what he had just said. Of course I knew the power was out. There was no question the power was out. Isn’t it interesting that people always state the obvious?

I told the class we were in good shape. Our power outages were usually short lived. They arrived early so we had a buffer zone. If the power was restored within 45 minutes we could still get through the mission. My plan was to take them outside to wait on the playground. My staff pointed something out I didn’t know - It was storming outside. Cancel plan 1. Move on to plan 2. We went to the gym. We gave them basketballs while we waited. Twenty minutes later they were getting board. The power was still off so we had to switch gears. We took out the Space Center’s Honor’s Night Bingo. Emily, Stacy, Megan, Rachel and other younger staff led them in several games of Bingo. The Space Center’s Candy Counter provided the rewards.

It was 5:00 P.M. The bewitching hour had arrived. The 45 minute buffer zone was expired. The power was out. A phone call to Rocky Mountain Power suggested the power would be off until 11:00 P.M. I walked onto the stage and gave them the bad news. We were sending them back to Park City. I was upset. First the Swine Flu and now a power outage. These poor kids couldn’t cut a break.

Oh Fortuna........... you are a crafty one. From your ruined temples you send the Fates to deal harshly with us. What have we done to incur your wrath? Last week it was the Magellan’s bulb. This week your mischief appeared in many places:

  • The Magellan’s air conditioner broke on Monday. The repairman says the condenser was cracked. I had to close the simulator.
  • Today I heard the crackled laugh of the Fates when I started the Voyager’s morning mission for fifth graders from Rowland Hall / St. Marks School. The Voyager’s primary CD player broke just before the mission. The Command Officer’s MP3 player went on the fritz. The Engineer’s MP3 player broke in mid training. Yes Fortuna, kick me when I’m down and then kick me again.

I walked the Park City kids out to their bus and sent them on their way. No one was happy about the turn of events but it was out of our hands. I can’t shake the feeling that some universal power has turned its attention to our little school and Space Center in the middle of back water Utah. My first concern is to find the mischievous Imp and send him on his way. Surely it must be someone else’s turn to be on the receiving end of irritating events. I hate to wish misfortune on anyone because of my Christian nature but when your back is to the wall, desperate times call for desperate measures.

Tonight I’m consulting my Roman mythology. Somewhere there must be information on appeasing the wrath of an forgotten Goddess. Maybe a sacrifice of some kind? I’d be happy to sacrifice an old computer if necessary. We could take one of the spare Imacs up to the school roof and toss it off while shouting “Fortuna is Blessed!” Or better yet let us find favor with another immortal. Perhaps we could persuade Jupiter to take up our cause?

Fortuna, Roman Goddess of Fortune
or in our case - misfortune.

I’ll work on this. A note to my staff and volunteers. Watch what you say and do at the Space Center. Don’t take our success for granted. There is nothing Fortuna loves more than to squash the hopes and dreams of any mortal feeling proud and boastful of his accomplishments. We will continue to do what we do best - provide the best field trip experience in the State of Utah and do it humbly. I stress Humbly.
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