Career Day Excitement at Meadows ES

Meadows Elementary students learn about the Blackhawk helicopter
By: Todd Martin
Career day at Meadows Elementary School has always been big. In fact, it’s not clear if the students or the adults enjoy the variety of guests more.
The school near the east gate of Fort Hood welcomed Friday a large contingent of military presenters, including a Blackhawk helicopter crew that landed before dawn in a large field adjacent to the school building.
Students tried on a flight vest, inspected a helmet and medic bag and with soldiers’ help, climbed through the huge helicopter.
They also heard from law enforcement officers, martial arts instructors, television news media, an attorney, financial advisor, dance studio operator and beekeeper among 30 or so guests.
One of the most memorable presentations came from the Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. Senior ticket sales director Travis Gafford made the drive to Fort Hood in a real racetrack pace car.
He not only delivered the souped-up Chevrolet Camaro, but brought race tickets for every student and staff member of the school and later in the day, a real Indy car delivered by trailer for display.
Answering student questions, Gafford said the sleek, maroon racecar, worth $1 million, could reach 200 miles per hour, making tight turns on a 1-and-a-half-mile track. Drivers, he said, are athletes conditioned to endure 500 miles in a single race.
Alongside the school playground, Capt. Dave Caskey of the 2nd Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade gave students a primer in the Blackhawk “ambulance in the sky.”
“We’re showing them a little about how they work,” the pilot said, “and letting them touch the controls. We want to explain to the older ones how we support our ground forces and assist the injured.”
As class after class made their way to the helicopter, Caskey said he was impressed with the students’ personal manner. “What’s cool is hearing them say ‘my mom is a soldier,’ ‘my dad is a soldier.’ That’s really special.”
Both the Meadows Elementary School staff and the visiting soldiers at the career day agreed it was a special opportunity to connect in a special place.
“We get a lot of requests, but this one is special,” said Caskey, “because we get to interact with kids and educate them. We’re fortunate to get to participate and to support our community.”
School counselor Jana Townsend said the school was excited to introduce students to a wide array of careers. “We are honored to have community participation from Killeen, Harker Heights, Copperas Cove and of course, our soldiers from Fort Hood,” she said.
“Career day is a tradition at Meadows,” she said. “It evolves and grows, but where else can you get a Blackhawk to come to your school?”
“We get to see all the different jobs and how things are operated like helicopters and tanks,” said fourth-grader June Hall. “We can walk around and see what we don’t usually see. It shows us jobs we can do, opportunities we can have later in life.”
“I like getting to see how other people work,” said fifth-grader Ava Davis. “We can hear different perspectives on work.” She said that she hopes to be an orthopedic doctor because when she broke her foot her own physician was so helpful.