posted on November 14, 2009 |
Off into the Remote Desert but not for 40 years
By Corporal Willy, Nov. 14th 2009
In the school realm of things, when I agreed to talk to kids about the importance of staying in school, I had no idea where some of those schools would be located at. This group I joined is called PAYBAC which is an acronym for “Professionals and Youth Building a Commitment.” It is one of the powerful tools that the Clark County School District of Las Vegas, Nevada uses to impress upon young minds the importance of staying in school and getting a great education. This is the fifth largest school district in the USA with over 311,000 children to educate. Like so many other school districts we are in hard times financially and cannot do everything we would like to. Even the teacher staffing is at 97% leaving many classes crowded and a little harder to control in some places. Having taught various things to most levels of students up to high school seniors, I know what control over a class means to teaching the subject matter. My hat is off to all the teachers out there that might be reading this.
Here was the mission statement. Go to the Indian Springs school located in the far north west region of our school district and bring our message to the students. Okay that is normally what we do at all schools but where the heck is Indian Springs? Let us take a look at an overall picture first.
I live in the North West part of the Las Vegas valley to begin with and it was still a 37 mile trip on 95 north at the legal speed limit of 70 mph most of the way. That does speed things along in getting there but this is what they call open rangeland and anything could be crossing the road when you are traveling at this speed. I know I don’t have to elaborate on that subject. But it is also an intriguing ride and maybe even more so at night. Allow me to show you in the pictures I stopped to take in route. Wow, another car I’m not alone.
This is not the place to run out of gas or develop car problems and the weather is cool right now. Can you imagine 115-120 degrees Fahrenheit or 46.1- 48.8 Celsius? Bring water and food; the buzzards are always keeping an eye on you in case you run into trouble. Nice of them but they are not carrier pigeons to bring help messages someplace. They have a strong organization.
Just one other thing I would like to point out to everyone here. To give you a perspective on where we are in relation to something else you might have heard of, take a look down below here. Yes that is the Nevada Test Site or formerly the Atomic Test Range. 700 detonations were set off there and about 500 of them were underground. I walked on some of those ground zeros areas and they are easy to find. They are very large craters that are hundreds of yards across and pretty deep. I was allowed to travel with some retired engineers to that site but no devices that could record anything were allowed. No cell phones, no voice recorders not even a pencil or paper. I wrote a 5000 word doc on the trip from memory and I have been waiting for three years to get approval to publish it. Notice that other blue square to the upper right of the Nevada Test Site tittle. Yup, that is the top secret base area 51, which I just recently wrote and posted to this web site. According to Google Earth the Nevada Test Site is 65 miles or 104.6 Kilometers from Las Vegas. Not very far and this Indian Springs school is about half way to it on the same road. No more Nuclear Detonations are being done anymore. Route 93 goes to Utah which is not far away.
Well that should give you a pretty good idea where Indian Springs is located. So now we will magically arrive at this oasis in the desert.
What the School sign doesn’t tell you is that they even have the elementary school located here. Let me now show you an aerial view of Indian Springs the school and the town. It does have a casino and a nice Post Office and two gas stations and even a bar so it is a complete town. I have no idea what the kids do in this area for fun but I did see something I will show you later on that could give you an idea about that. Here is the town and school. Most homes that I saw there are trailer styled homes. Kind of a poor area as you might expect.
Well we finally got there and walked into the Library where you usually meet to get refreshments like coffee and buns before we speak. Some car pooled to get here and normally we have between 25-30 speakers but this remote school and small student body of 225 all grades, had only 6 classes that would be talked to so our numbers are few today. Two people sitting down are the ones that keep this program going district wide. Mr. Kurt Arnold and Ms. Scharlene Blood, who are two really nice people.
Nine people showed up and of course I am taking the pictures. Everyone here is truly good at what they do to convince children about how important school is to them. Of course they are kids we talk to and they just like us did not really and fully appreciate that because we only heard that from our parents right? Who listens to them as a kid?
I’m trying to catch up with everyone here but we are getting a nice tour of the campus by Ms. Kay Miles the school counseler. (1 for all grades)
They have a gym and a pool and this could be something for the youngsters that live in the area to have for themselves to do as an activity. Especially this pool during those long hot, hot summers.
“Water, water everywhere and all the boards did shrink. Water, water everywhere but not a drop to drink.” This is truly a great place for the kids to spend those hot summers at. It is also the only one I saw in my quick tour of the community out there. Desert winds can kick up a lot of dust and that is something that takes a little getting used to when living in Las Vegas and here too.
The kids science teacher in Room 4 showed me a project that they were doing in class. Yes those are skeletal remains of desert critters that became unfortunate food items by birds, bussards, coyotes and other bigger and badder animals. The skeletons are collected from the non-digestible parts and were regurgitated found and collected and displayed on these standard sheets of typing or print paper. I guess walking in the desert is more fun than I thought. Anyone like to collect stamps?
As my speaking partner for this class went through her presentation to the young absorbing minds I felt a pair of sockets stairing at me so I turned around to see who it was. Wow, would you believe the kids I guess, found this skeletal remains of a guy who must have been called coincidentally Mr. Bones. This poor guy should have brought a lot more food and water with him when traveling in this part of the country. Whoever found him must have found a dusty, sunburned wallet near-by to identify him. Amazingly they found all 106 single bones that I think the human body is supposed to have. I really felt sorry for all of these poor unfortunate victums here but the desert can be cruel.
I was very lucky here at this school. I had a really terrific speaking partner. She had the youngsters glued to every word she was saying and that gave me a chance to move around for some shots. This was a sixth grade class and notice the small class size. The school test scores are all pretty high because with such small amounts of students in each class they get really good instruction and help when they need it. Although this school is so remote it is by no means backwards in education. They did have an internet connection in which I was able to pull up my blog site on http://www.engineering.com and show them the Solar One of Engineering.com project. I even brought with me one of the small mirrors from the mirror array to “show and tell” with the students. I think they loved it. It is also worth mentioning that there are virtually no bad student behaviors exhibted by the enrolled students and the reason for it was pretty much suggested to be related to the small student population at the school. Makes you wonder doesn't it?
I’m trying to get SolidWorks into the school here because the children here should have a chance to use it in a hands on approach with it. Thanks to the SolidWorks Corporation and their commitment to education, I was able to drop off 12 copies of the program to the school Principal Ms. Katy Christensen. I always notice a beautiful smile from those that I bring the student versions too. I also leave them my contact information if they need any help. This school even though seemingly a modern one does not have a high speed internet connection, yet. The prison has it twelve miles closer to Las Vegas, interestingly enough. This school will benefit from the program if they can get it going. I will make sure that they get the help needed if they do. Thanks Dassault Systemes and SolidWorks. Hope this was interesting to all of you that have an interest in education whether in the cities or remote areas. Bye from Corporal Willy.