LHS students headed to space camp

Published 6:00 am Sunday, March 13, 2016

Lafayette High School’s Air Force Junior ROTC will be traveling to Space Camp with 31 students this spring break.

Students will spend three days, from March 14-16, at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala. “They will be doing things that a person who just pays an entry fee on any given day does not get to do,” Maj. Harvey Rice said.

The group will leave Monday morning, stop for a picnic lunch, check into a local hotel and head straight to camp afterwards. Students will have the chance to participate in astronaut and outer space simulations after regular space camp hours. They will have the chance to be in a simulator called a “gyro.”

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Students will be strapped into the mechanism and it will flip, spin and swirl as students learn part of what being an astronaut is all about. To list a handful of additional activities, students may choose to be in a moonwalk simulator, a space rock-wall and a gravity-free simulator called a “Gravitron.” Students will also have the opportunity to build their own rocket.

Wednesday, the students will spend one last morning before the group travels to Cathedral Caverns State Park. The cave system is known for its churchlike appearance, an opening that measures 126 feet wide and 25 feet high. The caverns house the formation “Goliath.” The stalagmite column is one of the largest in the world; it measures 45 feet tall and 243 feet in circumference.

The ROTC trip is valued at more than $400. However, students cover expenses with their own hard work each year. Rice arranges for students to volunteer selling canned sodas at home football games. Rice lets the students decide whether to keep their earnings or to bank it for the trip.

“I have some students who don’t pay a cent to go,” Rice said. Bradley Winters is one those students. “It’s very rewarding,” Winters said. “It’s kind of like the expression ‘You reap what you sow’.”