Bald eagle flies at Challenger Elementary & Middle to commemorate 25th anniversary

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) -- Tuesday, a bald eagle named "Challenger" met awestruck Challenger Middle and Elementary school students in honor of their schools' 25th birthdays.

Challenger himself is a rescue, raised and protected by the American Eagle Foundation headquartered in Dollywood.  He travels all over the country with his handlers to fly into arenas and stadiums. Tuesday, he flew through the schools' gymnasium.

Dianne Hasty, principal of Challenger Middle School, said, "Having this eagle here today is very very special."

Here's the crazy part: besides sharing a name, Challenger and the schools also share an age. They're both 25, making him a perfect fit for the birthday celebration.

"I think it's pretty cool we're going to get to see one here," said Robbie Cabra, an 8th grader at the school.

He said the experience is a great reminder for the students and school about their bright futures in the next 25 years.

"We're the Eagles. And we soar high in everything we try to do," he said.

"We try to inspire students to aim high, reach high, and soar above the rest," echoed Hasty.

Challenger Elementary and Middle will have several events this week to mark their 25th birthdays, including a reception Thursday with the first principal of each school, the superintendent at the time and former and current faculty. Challenger will also unveil a new sculpture that was donated by an artist.  The sculpture was previously featured on the downtown square for two years.

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