Learning The Benefits Of Aviation One Step At A Time
By ANN Contributor Rose Dorcey
The Spirit of Flight is alive and well in a tiny community nestled
in the heart of America's Dairy-land, thanks to the initiative of
the Wild Rose (WI) School District.
Under the direction of Joanne Pflug, District Reading
Specialist, along with a dedicated reading promotion committee at
Wild Rose Elementary, a week's worth of aviation-related activities
were produced to inspire a new crop of young people to explore the
field of aviation.
Almost 300 students in grade levels
K - 5 took part in the school's Take Flight, Read! program, one
that fosters in its students a "love for reading" while at the same
time celebrating the centennial of flight in America, according to
Elizabeth Dohr, reading committee member. Ms. Pflug agreed, saying,
"Take Flight, Read! is a district initiative. We decided to use the
flight theme for book week this year to commemorate the 100 years
We ordered theme bookmarks, posters and other materials from the
American Library Association to kick-start our theme." The school
presented a wide range of aviation activities to its students,
including state aviation history displays, and both a Wright
Brothers and Wisconsin Aviation History presentation by volunteer
pilots interested in historic aviation research. Students from
Pleasant View Elementary School, 13 miles to the east, also
attended the presentations. The program will culminate with a field
trip to the Wild Rose Idlewild Airport later this year.
The highlight of the week's activities was a "Flight Around The
World" - where the students "flew" from one classroom to another,
passports in hand and propeller-fitted beanies on their heads,
while Ms. Pflug acted as flight attendant, announcing arrivals and
departures over the school's PA system. Students from nearby Wild
Rose High School came to read to the kids and to help with
An 8' x 8' world map, made by the students, hangs in the
school's main hallway, announcing their travel destinations to
visitors. Each class chose a country to visit; then decorated the
classroom with the national flag, maps, and particulars of the
country's customs and resources. Visitors to Britain enjoyed a
"spot of tea" while Brazilian visitors hiked through the
rainforest. "The flight theme was used as a tool to learn more
about the geography and climate of the 'countries' visited," said
Dohr. "Our students learned much about the world we live in, in
addition to the history of flight."
A Wisconsin aviation history display was on exhibit in the
school's library. It provided an educational backdrop for the
libraries' aviation books that were pulled from its shelves and
displayed to promote the event. The history display is provided to
state airports and schools by a cooperative effort of the WisDOT
Bureau of Aeronautics, the Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame and the
Wisconsin Wing of the Civil Air Patrol. Since April 2003 an
audience of over 20,000 has viewed it.
Reaction from the future aviation leaders was positive, if not
downright bubbly. The youngest students "oooo'd and aahhhed" at the
stories of the pilot's flight experiences and images of the "cool
airplanes" that were shown, while the older kids inquired of the
age that they can fly an airplane and when they can be licensed.
While learning about the Wright Brothers' first flights, the K - 3
graders were asked to walk the length of the gymnasium and stop
when they reached their estimate of the length of the first flight.
"The hands-on activities kept their interest level up and gave the
students a much better perception of the aviator's
accomplishments," said Dohr.
One of the goals of the program, according to Pflug, was to
encourage learning and lifelong reading skills. Based on the
enthusiasm of the kids, the event was an overwhelming success.
Taylor, 10, said, "It was wonderful when Mrs. Montgomery came in
and read the book, 'The Wright Brothers' First Flying Machine,"
while Bronson, 8, said, "I learned it was hard work controlling a
"The teachers did a great job," said Pflug. "They took off on
the theme and generated a lot of information for the students on
the Wright Brothers and the first flight. The Friday activity,
'Take Flight Around the World' was awesome. Each class did a
tremendous job with their countries and sharing the
Rose Dorcey is a member of the Board of Directors at the
Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame.