Huntsville, Ala. (WHNT) – It was an exciting day at Chaffee Elementary School this morning in Huntsville, as students and teachers got the surprise of their lives. Sixty anxious fifth graders and their teachers were brought into the library this morning. They saw lights and cameras, but didn’t have a clue of what all the excitement was about.
Then they got an announcement that they’d be missing a week of school.
Jay Lockridge, leader of the Huntsville Elks Lodge, told them, “The reason you’re going to be missing school is because you’re going to be going to Space Camp.”
The library, normally a place for whispers, turned into a room of screaming fifth graders.
Lockridge presented a check for just under 30 thousand dollars to cover the cost.
“A couple of years ago we were notified by the state of a past exalted ruler by the name of Elmer Hargis that in his last will and testament, he had left an endowment to provide for children to attend Space Camp that would not otherwise be able to attend,” according to Lockridge.
That endowment, along with funds from the Huntsville Elks Lodge, means a once in a lifetime experience for many of these students.
Malcolm Patton is one of the fifth grade students who will be going. “I was really excited that we get to go to space camp. I’m pumped. I’m ready to go!”
Sanchella Graham is Chaffee’s principal and was the only one to know about the secret. “This is awesome for us. We are big on science here, so this hands-on experience for our fifth grade students will go a long way for them.”
Keeping the news to herself until today wasn’t easy.
“Just to keep this secret was hard, but I couldn’t until today came. I couldn’t sleep last night.”
Those involved are hoping the students’ excitement will blast off into a love for science, math, and space in the Rocket City.
The kids will be going to Space Camp the week of February 17th.