Move America Forward Hosts Packathon to Assemble Care Packages
RANCHO CORDOVA, CA (MPG) - On September 11, 2018, Move America Forward hosted a poignant event commemorating the 17th anniversary of 9/11, honoring both the victims of terror attacks and the troops on the front lines. Move America Forward, the largest pro-troops grassroots organization in the nation, recently moved their headquarters to Rancho Cordova and combined their grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony with a Packathon committed to assembling care packages for the troops.
In 2004, Melanie Morgan founded Move America Forward to pay homage to active military members and as a message of deep gratitude for their service to our country. Morgan said, “I am deeply humbled and grateful for all of our donors who keep us going and allow us to support our troops by opening their hearts and sponsoring care packages for the troops. And to our volunteers who work countless man hours to pack up these boxes, as well as our sponsors who donate tens of thousands of dollars in products which allows us to keep serving our troops year after year.”
Rancho Cordova Mayor Linda Budge said that the work done by Move America Forward is “a shining example for us all.” Mayor Budge said that the terrible events of 9/11 motivated many more people to enlist in the military because they were so inspired by those brave men and women who are willing to sacrifice everything to protect their fellow Americans.
While deployed overseas, Sergeant James Menard received a care package from Move America Forward. He spoke of how meaningful it is to receive a tangible symbol of love and support from people back home. Menard said, “The power to help those in need has never been more important than it is today. These care packages show our troops that someone at home cares.”
The event’s featured speaker was Richard Hannaford, a 9/11 survivor. He was on the 84th floor of World Trade Center Tower 2 at the time of the attack. After the first plane hit Tower 1, the first detail he noticed that told him something was wrong was a piece of paper floating by the window. He looked out the window and saw more pieces of paper floating in the air. He looked across to Tower 1 and saw that it was smoking; that was when he knew they had to get out. He described it as “pandemonium.”
Throughout the confusion, Hannaford pushed everyone to keep moving, even when an announcement over the building’s loud speakers said that everything was okay and that employees should return to their desks. It was 9:03 in the morning when his tower was hit. Hannaford and about six others were in the stairwell when they felt the impact. They kept evacuating and around the 20th floor they began encountering fireman and EMTs rushing up the stairs. “I still remember some of their faces clearly,” said Hannaford. “Some of those men never made it back. It’s our responsibility to remember and honor them and never forget.”
When Hannaford finally reached the street, he said the scene that greeted him is the closest he will ever come to being in a warzone. He said a prayer for the people in Tower 1, some of whom he knew personally. Then, when he about four blocks away, his tower came down.
Hannaford is deeply grateful to be alive, and grateful for the service of the men and women who risk their lives to protect this country. He said, “I think if you don’t remember an event of this magnitude, this wanton and cowardly destruction that targeted innocent people, it could happen again, and that would be really tragic.”
Many volunteers, representatives from the City of Rancho Cordova and the Chamber of Commerce, and 30 troops from the local B.T. Collins U.S. Army Reserve Center attended the event. The Presentation of Colors was enacted by the American Legion Post 233 Color Guard, and the crowd was visibly moved by the display. A large number of elected officials attended the ceremony and presented Move America Forward with Awards and Resolutions recognizing their work. Gold Star Families were given special honors: Diane Layfield, mother of L.Cpl. Travis Layfield, US Marines, killed in action 4/6/2004; Mike Anderson, father of Cpl. Michael D. Anderson Jr., US Marines, killed in action 12/14/2004; and John and Betty Hall, parents of SFC Bryan Hall, US Army, killed in action 4/10/2009.
While Move America Forward sends care packages to all active troops, their main focus is on those stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan who don’t have the same resources and who are living in austere conditions. Since Move America Forward was first founded in 2004, they have sent 38,000 tons of food and other items to the troops. At the time of the event, 2,001 care packages were ready to be shipped out, and another 911 were prepared by volunteers after the ceremony.
If you would like to sponsor a care package, please visit www.MoveAmericaForward.org.
Answer in DNA
SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - It was an eerie, familiar feeling as Sacramento District Attorney stood alongside state law enforcement agents and in front of media members, announcing the arrest of yet another notorious California serial rapist.
58-year-old Roy Charles Waller of Benicia was linked through DNA to the heinous NorCal Rapist crimes committed on at least 12 victims that date back beginning 27 years ago and took place across six counties.
“The answer has always been in the DNA,” said Schubert, coincidentally in the midst of National Forensic Science Week. She explained the partnership of tireless science and police work that led to a breakthrough over the past 10 days, eventually leading to the arrest.
“Today we can bring some closure to the victim in Contra Costa County who was attacked on Halloween in 1996,” said Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton.
Waller was arrested in Berkeley near the U.C. Berkeley campus. He has been a U.C. Berkeley employee for the past 25 years. The Sacramento Police Department and the Berkeley Police Department made the arrest.
The suspect has been charged with 12 counts of force-able sexual assault, plus enhancements. There are also allegations that he used a gun. He’s been awarded no bail and his arraignment is set for Monday in Sacramento.
CARMICHAEL, CA (MPG) - You’ve seen the cats scurry into the brush when you walk by, or the kitten who shows up on your doorstep every so often looking for something to eat. Some people consider these feral cats nuisances; some consider them cute; and others, like Sac Feral Resources, understand the need for the neighborhood to work together to manage feral cat colonies. A workshop being offered on September 30 at Carmichael Library will teach community members how to improve the situation for both feral cats and humans who share the same neighborhood.
The workshop, part of the Community Cats Project, will be divided into two parts. The morning session will focus on feral and community cats. This session may be taken alone, but it is a prerequisite for the afternoon that will discuss and teach Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR). The workshops are free and open to the public.
“I want to improve the situation for the cats and for the neighbors,” said Linda Morgan of Sac Feral Resources, a non-profit all-volunteer organization. “Ultimately, the objective is to stop more kittens from being born into a situation where they are not welcomed, wanted, or cared for,” she said, “and to humanely care for cats already in the neighborhood.” The hope, she added, is that people, even those currently caring for feral cats, will “take something away that will improve the lives of the cats and the neighborhood.”
How do these cats get into the neighborhood? Some are left behind after the humans move. Others are set outside after a death in the family. Still others are put out instead of taken to one of the shelters because the people fear the cats will be euthanized. There are many reasons. Sac Feral Resources’ intention isn’t to focus on the reasons. It is to teach people how to control the cat population.
“There’s a method to colony management,” she said.
“I don’t think people realize how much of a problem this is. Throughout the county there are between one and two hundred thousand feral cats. There is no inventory.”
By learning how to monitor and manage the colony within a neighborhood, she added, the population can stabilize and eventually will decrease because cats are trapped, spayed, neutered, and returned. They are unable to reproduce. There is also what Morgan calls a feeding protocol, which is not simply leaving a bowl of food outside for the neighborhood cat.
The organization encourages people to register colonies, to learn what needs to be done within an apartment complex or neighborhood. Some residents, she said, have been faced with eviction if they continue to feed the cats. Socializing feral kittens helps make them adoptable.
“The in-depth workshops cover the background of what these cats are, the philosophies of people in the neighborhood, and why it is a neighborhood problem,” said Morgan. “Cats are left behind. People are dumping cats where they see cats being fed. Cats are out there because of human action or inaction.”
What can attendees expect? Morgan will bring in traps and demonstrate their use. She’ll show videos, and teach how to talk to others as a colony manager. She’ll teach how to trap the “untrappable” cats. She’ll also explain how to feed cats. “There’s a protocol behind it that will make you more successful,” she said. “With TNR, responsible feeding, and colony management, the cat population will stabilize and ultimately be reduced through attrition. Neighborhood cat issues can be resolved when residents are empowered to work together in this shared objective.”
For additional information, visit: www.sacferals.com. If you’re going: Saturday, September 30 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.at the Carmichael Library, 5605 Marconi Avenue, Carmichael, CA.
RANCHO CORDOVA, CA (MPG) - At 1:44 p.m. on September 17, 2018, the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Communications Center received a 911 call regarding a disturbance at a local business, located at the 10000 block of Folsom Boulevard. Two Rancho Cordova Police Department Officers, which is a contract city with the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department, responded to the scene. The initial call for service gave no indication that the suspect was armed or dangerous. Upon the officers arriving, they were fired upon by the suspect and were able to return fire.
The suspect fled from the initial scene on foot and was again engaged by other responding deputies at a secondary scene. The suspect was taken into custody and transported to a local hospital, where he is currently in stable condition.
During this encounter, two officers were shot by the suspect.
One officer, Julie Robertson (28), a three and a half year veteran, was shot in the arm and is in stable condition.
The other officer, Mark Stasyuk (27), was shot by the suspect. He was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at the hospital.
An uninvolved citizen was shot, presumably by the suspect. That citizen appears to be in stable condition at this time.
Deputy Mark Stasyuk was a four and a half year veteran of the Sheriff’s Department and was assigned to the Rancho Cordova Police Department as a patrol officer. Deputy Stasyuk leaves behind a wife, mother, father, and sister. He was preceded in death by his older brother.
The investigation into the incident will be conducted by the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau and Professional Standards Division, which is standard practice for any officer-involved shooting that occurs in the Sheriff’s Department’s jurisdiction. An independent review of the officer-involved shooting will be conducted by the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office. In accordance with the Sheriff’s Department policies and procedures, the deputies involved in the shooting will be placed on paid administrative leave pending the investigation.
Deputy Mark Stasyuk Memorial Fund
A memorial fund has been set up to help Deputy Mark Stasyuk’s family. Donations can be made by visiting the CAHP Credit Union website or by mailing checks to:
Deputy Mark Stasyuk Memorial Fund
CAHP Credit Union
2843 Manlove Road
P.O. Box 276507
Sacramento, CA. 95827-6507
RANCHO CORDOVA, CA (MPG) - A standing room only crowd filled the second floor of Mills Station Arts and Cultural Center (MACC) Saturday, September 15 to hear from Rancho Cordovan George Hudson, one of the original Tuskegee Airmen. Joining Hudson were Perry Woods, the current president of the George S. “Spanky” Roberts, Sacramento Chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen, Inc., and Col. James C. Crump, Jr. USAF (Ret), past chapter president.
Hudson served at Mather Air Force base from 1968 – 1970. During his service, which began in 1945 with the Army Air Corps, he had been stationed in Hawaii, Wichita Falls, France, Germany, Guam, and at Clark Air Force Base on Luzon Island in the Philippines. He was also stationed in Korea when the Korean War began. He’s a soft-spoken man who shrugs off his celebrity, saying he’s “just one of the guys.”
Penelope Oliver, a homeschooler, attended the event because she is currently studying World War II and wanted to “experience living history.” She took the opportunity to hear first person accounts of what life was like for Tuskegee Airmen and how their service influenced, and continues to influence, generations of men and women. She was excited to speak with Col. Crump before the event and greeted George Hudson when he entered the room.
Cheryl Gleason, Cordova Community Council’s events specialist, introduced the day’s speakers and a short documentary, “Black Wings,” shot in the 1980s and provided by KOVR Channel 13. The short film provided a foundation and background.
“The original Tuskegee Airmen were assigned to an all-black unit between March 1941 and November 1949,” said Col. Crump, who served from 1954 until 1988. The purpose of the Tuskegee Airmen was “to protect the bombers,” he said. “They stayed with the bombers,” who later thanked the men for saving their lives.
“I’m glad to see the youth in the house,” said Perry Woods, who served three years at Mather and was one year old when Col. Crump received that commission.
He spoke about the George S. “Spanky” Roberts chapter which meets monthly at the Aerospace Museum of California, is open to all interested people, and provides scholarships in many fields.
Woods also recognized Hudson’s service in three different wars, thanked Gleason and her staff, and said that the chapter couldn’t run without Col. Crump.
“There was a lot of integrity from the men,” he said of the Tuskegee Airmen, “and we owe them a debt of gratitude.” Hudson and the other Tuskegee Airmen fought the overseas enemy during WWII and returned home to the same prejudice they had left, he added.
“It is important that we never forget their impeccable records.”
Hudson, who had been assigned to the 320th bomb wing, retired in 1970 as chief clerk, and said, “If I had the chance, I would do it all over again.”
Col. Crump said, “Tuskegee Airmen didn’t talk about their experience. I didn’t hear about them until I went to the Pentagon in January 1980.” He related stories of Brigadier General Benjamin O. Davis, integrity, and the mentoring he received.
“I wouldn’t be here now if you hadn’t done your job,” he said and saluted George Hudson.
The talk was the final event of the two-week “Century of Service – 100th Anniversary of Mather Field,” which has included author talks, films, special guests, and an evening of swing band music and dance. The exhibit will move to the California Capital Airshow which kicks off on September 21 and runs for three days at Mather Airport.
“The exhibit has been an overwhelming success in this community,” said Gleason, and invited the audience to the next MACC exhibit, “Anne Frank. Her Photos. Her Story.,” which opens on October 11 and features talks by Japanese internment survivor Kiyo Sato and Holocaust survivor Bernard Marks.
For additional information, visit: www.facebook.com/sacramentotuskegeeairmen , visit: www.rcmacc.org, or visit www.californiacapitalairshow.com.
RANCHO CORDOVA, CA (MPG) - The third annual Leo’s Amazing Race takes off on September 30 with a twist. It is the year of the superhero! You’ve seen them on the big and small screens, in the news, and in the pages of comic books. They are as American as, well, the Sacramento Children’s Museum and Rancho Cordova.
This family-friendly, business-friendly event is open to teams of four. One adult over eighteen and one child under eighteen must be on each team, said Meghan Toland, Director of Museum Advancement for Sacramento Children’s Museum. For families of five with a child under five years, there is a special deal, she said, for the “tiny team member.”
Who can’t name a superhero with so many to choose from? There are Superman, Spiderman, Ironman, The Incredible Hulk, Wonder Woman, The Incredibles, Supergirl, Ant-Man, Black Panther, Catwoman, Captain America, Fantastic Four, Daredevil, Elektra, Green Lantern, Hawkeye, Aquaman, Iron-Fist, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Doctor Strange, Wolverine, and there is Batman. Last on the list doesn’t mean he’s last on the list for Leo, who Toland describes as a “happy, friendly, green guy.” The winning team will ride in a licensed replica of the 1966 Batmobile, just like the one used in the television show that aired from 1966 through 1968 and introduced Batgirl to television audiences.
Teams will compete in challenges in businesses around Rancho Cordova in a sort of home-town, family-oriented version of the television show, but with a Sacramento Children’s Museum twist. Teams will begin challenges at Sacramento Children’s Museum at 2 p.m. before venturing outside. KP International Market and Whimsy Face Painting and Body Art are again part of the race. Code Ninjas and MOD Pizza are new businesses and new to the race. Other businesses on the schedule are Comics and Collectibles and Amazing Athletes of Northern Sacramento. “It’s a really fun way to see people engaging in their business and for us to connect with businesses in the community,” said Toland when asked about the business participation.
Get ready for some fun. Past challenges have included food eating, balloon twisting, hula hooping, Leo hockey, dancing, and tricycle racing. What challenges are in store this year? Toland was tight-lipped about most challenges but said that coding and food tasting were confirmed. To find out, you’ll need to register your team with a superhero team name you make up, dress up in your best superhero costumes, and show up ready for whatever curves Leo and company toss your way.
Toland said that the registration fee helps support museum programs and exhibits and gets each participant a post-race barbecue meal and play time at the museum until closing. She’s expecting 25 or more teams and said that this is a “really fun event for us and our visitors, and participants have a really great time.”
Since its debut in 2015 when heavy rain kept many people from participating, the race has grown and Toland expects growth to continue. Prizes differ each year. To encourage costumes and team names, prizes will be awarded to teams for best team name and best costume. In past years, costumes have included the Big Bad Wolf and the Three Pigs, superheroes, and Leos in all sizes. Teams must have completed all challenges and be back at the museum by 4 p.m. in order to qualify for prizes, including that ride in the 1966 Batmobile replica.
“We love superheroes, our visitors love superheroes, and Leo looks good in a cape,” said Toland who also does a good job with a hula hoop. For additional information, visit www.sackids.org/leos-amazing-race. If you go: Sunday, September 30, 2-4 p.m. 2701 Prospect Park, Rancho Cordova.
SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Behavioral health issues will plague one in four Americans in their lifetime, and half of us will care for someone living with a mental health issue during our lives. If you are not experiencing a behavioral health challenge right now, someone you know certainly is. These issues can strike someone once during their lifetime, or they may be something a person deals with every moment of every day.
In my role with Mental Health America of California, I work closely with youth and in the workplace mental health space. I see that the state of California, and the nation as a whole, is facing significant issues when it comes to behavioral health. Children are dying from substance use disorder and overdoses; they are dying from suicide. Neighbors are disabled because of behavioral health challenges.
MHAC has been working for 60 years to ensure that everyone in California who needs mental health services and support has access to appropriate help before they reach a point of crisis. But we cannot do this alone. That’s why we have joined forces with a first-of-its-kind coalition called Behavioral Health Action. The coalition brings together more than 50 diverse organizations that touch behavioral health in some way. This includes law enforcement, health care providers and hospitals, education, business, government and labor. Our goal is to elevate the issue of behavior health and raise awareness among the public and elected officials about what we can do to make a change.
Today, many elected officials are concerned about reducing costs of health care in the state of California. Others are concerned about closing achievement gaps. One way to solve these problems is to address behavioral health challenges and treatment. While we as the Behavioral Health Action coalition can create innovative solutions, it is up to the legislators to implement policies and bring change at a statewide level.
This issue runs deep. It is going to take steadfast effort from our whole village to make a dent in behavioral health outcomes and to improve the lives of people living with these challenges. If we do not include many partners with many perspectives, we’ll never make a difference.
I lost two siblings to suicide. I grew up in a family and in a community where substance use and mental health issues were prevalent, but no one ever talked about it. No one discussed treatment. Because of this, behavioral health has always been my top priority, and I hope others will give it the importance it deserves – from our neighbors and friends to our local and state representatives. We all need to take responsibility, and we all need to unite our voices, if we want to make progress on this issue.
If you are not mentally well, how can you achieve anything else? If we don’t highlight and elevate behavioral health, reduce its stigma and identify appropriate services and support that our communities need, we’re going to have many more problems before anything gets better.
I am a candidate this year for the San Juan Unified School Board. I can assure you that behavioral health will be my chief concern as I run for elected office, and I urge all other elected officials and candidates to make it a priority as well when they are on the campaign trail.
Zima Creason is President and CEO of Mental Health America of California
Preserving an American Tradition Like No Other
SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - The Big One is Back! Circus Vargas Delivers the Ultimate Entertainment Extravaganza for 2018! Debuting their latest, new and amazing animal-free production in Citrus Heights, the much-anticipated tour begins September 20th and runs through October 14th with stops in Roseville and Folsom!
Always fun for the entire family, Circus Vargas’ incredible new production highlights an amazing cast of world renowned performers! Death- Defying Acrobats, Daredevils, Flying Trapeze Artists, Jugglers, Contortionists, Comedians, Clowns, Motorcycles and much, much, more!
Get ready to unleash your imagination and discover a world of pure circus magic and wonderment under the Big Top, where memories are made and cherished for a lifetime!
Join us for a swashbuckling circus spectacular, with this year’s theme “Dreaming of Pirates!” A fantastic voyage of nonstop action and adventure guaranteed to thrill and enchant children of all ages! Prepare to witness the impossible and experience the unforgettable!
Circus Vargas’ Dreaming of Pirates… A true circus treasure!
Arrive 45 minutes early for an entertaining, interactive pre-show celebration, where kids can create their own magic under the big top, learning circus skills such as juggling, balancing and more! Meet and mingle with the entire cast after each performance. Capture the fun by posing for pics or selfies with your favorite cast members, all part of an unforgettable Circus Vargas experience!
Ticket Information: General admission tickets start at $15 for children and $25 for adults.
For Circus Vargas performance dates, times and to purchase tickets, visit www.circusvargas.com, call 877-GOTFUN-1 (877-468-3861) or visit the box office at each location.
Follow Circus Vargas on Facebook and Twitter for updates, discounts and behind the scenes video.
SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - A baker’s dozen is thirteen as the cake enthusiasts who attended Cake4Kids’ orientation at Arcade library on Saturday, August 18 know. This second orientation in the Sacramento region for the Sunnyvale-based nonprofit drew bakers of all backgrounds and ages hailing from Carmichael, Arden Arcade, Rancho Cordova, Elk Grove, Rancho Murieta and beyond to learn more about Cake4Kids.
Mary Barnes, Cake4Kids’ Sacramento ambassador, led the hour long program. Barnes is a Sacramento native who first discovered the group when she lived in San Francisco. When she returned to Sacramento to pursue her legal career she wanted to bring the program with her and spoke about why she chose the eastern part of Sacramento.
“We thought about logistics,” she said, “An area where there were a good number of residential areas to pull volunteers from.”
This area, she explained, is close to freeways, homes, several nonprofits serving the demographic that Cake4Kids supports – homeless, recent immigrants, those in foster care, and victims of human trafficking – and it doesn’t cost money for parking so that left downtown and midtown out of the running.
“It is supported by Carmichael, east Sacramento, Sac State students, and ARC students. We thought it was a good location to start because of all of those factors.”
In addition to being the nonprofit’s Sacramento ambassador and tackling the job of finding volunteers, contacting agencies, and filling requests, Barnes, like other volunteers, works full time. She is also a volunteer baker and delivered the first cake in Sacramento to Opening Doors, an organization that serves individuals and families escaping human trafficking and refugees new to the area. She baked a vegan banana cake for a boy and decorated the cake with a racecar theme, complete with toy cars atop a protective layer of marzipan, and topped with vegan chocolate frosting.
“We have several requests for vegan cakes from this organization. We’re challenging our bakers right away,” said Barnes, adding that all requests had been claimed and filled since the first orientation in July with twenty attendees.
In 2010, Cake4Kids was born. Only thirteen cakes were baked and delivered that year. Fast forward eight years when more than 10,000 cakes have been baked and delivered by volunteers as far south as San Diego. The nonprofit also serves Fresno, Marin, Monterey, Napa, San Mateo, and five other California counties. Each cake is prepared from scratch especially for the child, decorated, packaged in a cake box, and delivered to the requesting agency. Although volunteers never meet the children, they often receive thanks from the children or, in some cases, from the parents or caregivers.
Before volunteer bakers can claim cakes, they must attend a mandatory orientation where they’ll learn about the organization, the demographic served, logistics, and resources. One of the volunteer benefits is that each baker may take cake decorating classes and be reimbursed for up to $100.00 each year. The ability to be a fabulous decorator is not a requirement, although some cakes are quite lavish. Each cake, she added, must have the child’s name.
During the orientation, Barnes said that 60,000 children are in foster care and only 5% between 15 and 18 years of age are adopted in California. Nearly 30 percent of children are homeless in the United States, and Barnes referenced the thousands of U.S. based human trafficking cases annually. These are some of the at-risk children Cake4Kids serves.
Julie Eades, the organization’s executive director, attended the inaugural orientation in July and said in a telephone interview that, “When you’re on or near the poverty line, a cake might not be the thing you choose to spend your money on. We talk about the fact that these children get moved from home to home and sometimes they don’t get any birthday celebrations. Not because nobody cares. It’s just one thing extra that people caring for them have to think about.”
Cake4Kids serves children and young adults up to the age of 24 and Eades said that some children as old as twenty have never had a cake before the one baked and delivered by a volunteer. She also said that the older children are extremely appreciative of the cake made just for them. Everyone should feel special one day a year.
Men, women, and children 16 years and older interested in baking cakes and bringing joy to a child should sign up to be a volunteer on the organization’s website. Sacramento orientations will be held through December at Arcade and Arden-Dimick libraries. The goal is to have 100 volunteers on board. On October 20 and December 22, orientations will be held at Arcade library on Marconi from 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. On November 10, Arden-Dimick will host from 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. The September orientation date and location has not been set. For additional information, visit www.cake4kids.org.
Two Thousand Students Receive Capital Airshow Tickets
RANCHO CORDOVA, CA (MPG) - Two thousand students from thirteen Rancho Cordova schools - Cordova High, Cordova Gardens Elementary, Cordova Meadows Elementary, Cordova Villa Elementary, Mills Middle, Mitchell Middle, Navigator Elementary, Peter J. Shields, Rancho Cordova Elementary, Riverview STEM Academy, White Rock Elementary, and Williamson Elementary – assembled at Mitchell Middle School on Thursday, August 30 for a huge surprise. Fire drill bells sounded and students marched forth from Mitchell classes to a grassy area in front of a stage, joined during the next 30 minutes by busloads of students carrying school identification signs for what they learned was Operation Inspire the Future.
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) was the word of the day. Councilman Sander said that it is important for students to understand that “STEM is more than just cool airplanes,” which is why, for the third year, the City of Rancho Cordova and California Capital Airshow have collaborated to offer free airshow tickets to students.
“The airshow they see in their backyard is not the same show as we produce,” said Angela Terry, California Capital Airshow’s director of operations. “STEM is the future.”
“What better investment than the next generation,” said Darcy Brewer, the airshow’s executive director.
And Bob Martinelli, Colonel USAF (Ret.) and Secretary, Board of Directors, said that Aerojet Rocketdyne is “running out of rocket scientists.”
Mayor Budge said that she “always knew the Airshow had a purpose in education.” The schools have incorporated art, music, sports, and science, which include visits to Mather’s vernal pools and Effie Yeaw Nature Center. “The focus on STEM education is a natural evolution.”
Seven thousand tickets worth $175,000 will be distributed to the schools and used as incentives. “They have to go out and earn it,” she said. Each school will devise its own guidelines.
If vocals would have earned tickets, the assembled students would have earned extras for their ability to land the helicopter circling overhead. The helicopter, they were told, wouldn’t land if they weren’t loud enough. Voices increased several decibels until the helicopter landed in the grass behind the stage.
Sacramento Sheriff Department’s K9 unit, with lights flashing and siren screaming, escorted the day’s special guests and bags to the stage. Cameras and phones filled the air to capture anything and everything. Students were encouraged to use their phones and the event’s Snapchat filter.
Lt. Colonel James Ferrell and Major Ryan Freaney, USAFA Liaison Officers with the United States Air Force, spoke about the importance of school and turning dreams into goals.
Deputy District Attorney Shauna Franklin reminded the students that they already engage with STEM through slime, smartphones, Fortnite, and math. “Find a mentor,” she said, “anyone you can look up to and talk to,” which is what Franklin, who attended a school with 100 students, did. She connected her studies in math and philosophy to her profession.
Rancho Cordova Police Officer Jason Hinckle said to “do well in school and tell the truth all the time.”
Tracy Jacobs, School Resource Officer, drew the most engagement from everyone when she spoke of her route to fulfill her dream. Jacobs, a Rancho Cordova native who wanted to be a police officer, went into nursing. “I was told I wasn’t good enough,” she said. She had been bullied and told that she’d only be an officer in her dreams.
“I’ve been living in my dreams for 18 years,” said Jacobs, who worked full-time in the hospital’s emergency room and attended the police academy full-time for six months. She graduated at the top of the class and is now an instructor at that same academy.
“You are good enough,” said emcee Mayor Budge, who closed the morning’s event.
Student questions included requests for autographs and the all-important “what’s in the bag?”
Thirteen large duffel bags lined the stage. The ceremony for opening those was nearly as grand as the helicopter landing. With adults carrying duffel bags filled with tickets and students donning Operation Inspire the Future backpacks, each school made its way to the helicopter for photo opportunities, with a few stops along the way to pet the German shorthair K9 officer and get a hug from SRO Jacobs.
The remaining six schools in Rancho Cordova will be notified within the next week of their big surprise.
For additional information about the California Capital Airshow, visit www.californiacapitalairshow.com.