Coalition Sends Five Military Children to Space Camp
By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 13, 2003 Last year the Military Child Education Coalition had only enough money to send one student of military parents to the U.S. Space Camp in Huntsville, Ala.
But this year military children lucked out, thanks to a $5,000 corporate donation to pay the tuition for five youngsters to experience the camp.
"We received 318 applications for the 2003 Bernard Curtis Brown II Memorial Space Camp scholarship," said retired Army Lt. Gen. Don Jones, who announced the winners at the coalition's fifth annual conference July in Groton, Conn.
Each application had to be accompanied by an essay, Jones said. "Some of the things we asked these youngsters to do were to talk about your future goals, what you want to be later in life. Talk about patriotism, community service and their after-space-camp plans. We got some remarkable responses," he noted.
"It's only fitting that MCEC has created a space camp scholarship in memory of one of the country's brightest and finest children Bernard Curtis Brown II. Bernard was the son of Navy Chief Petty Officer and Mrs. Bernard Curtis Brown Jr. And, unfortunately, he was a passenger on the hijacked airliner that was crashed into the Pentagon on Sept. 11."
At the time of his death, Brown, 11, was en route to California to represent his school in the Sustainable Seas Expeditions, a science project funded by the National Geographic Society, Jones told the audience. The marine research project was held at the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, near Santa Barbara.
"So he was doing the kinds of things we all like to see our young people do," said Jones, a member of the MCEC board of directors. "MCEC and his parents thought it was appropriate and fitting that we should form a memorial scholarship in honor of this bright, outstanding kid.
"Space camp is a place where young people come together for a journey that they'll never forget," the retired three- star general said. "Each child learns about the duties of an astronaut, about space travel and about experiences. Even more importantly, they learn about developing the bonds of friendship."
The camp uses the excitement of space exploration to encourage youngsters to study math, science and high technology subjects. The week-long program is run by the U.S. Space and Rocket Center and the Alabama Space Science Exhibit Commission.
Sessions are designed around simulated space missions conducted in Space Shuttle orbiter mockups. Trainees learn the basics of shuttle operation, the science and history of the space program, leadership skills and teamwork. They also use authentic simulators to experience the sensations of astronaut training. Some even take a simulated mission to Mars.
Juliesa D. Moore was an eighth grade honor roll student at Ramstein American Middle School in Germany when selected for the scholarship. She became the first military child to graduate from this year's space camp Aug. 1. The daughter of Army Capt. Angelo D. Moore, she aspires to earn a degree in engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
"She plays basketball, runs track, plays violin in the Kaiserslautern (Germany) Military Community Orchestra and attends church every Sunday and Wednesday with her family," Jones noted. "She has visited NASA Space Center at Houston, Texas, and the NASA Museum in Hampton, Va.
Jones said she wants to be valedictorian of her high school senior class and to be in the publication "Who's Who Among American High School Students."
"I want to be more than the average individual," Moore wrote in her essay. "I want to set the example and be the role model. I want to lead others in the right direction to become successful. I believe education not only leads to a successful career, but overall success in life."
Alexzandar Kyle Sutton, a sixth grader at Gaeta (Italy) American Middle School at the time of scholarship selection, finished space camp Aug. 8. The son of Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Darryel Sutton, he took part in a program last winter called "Odyssey of the Mind," an after- school program where students come together and problem solve and do creative thinking, Jones said.
A member of Boy Scout Troop 85 in Gaeta, Sutton has earned a merit badge for citizenship and is volunteering in the library as a requirement for earning his reading merit badge. As a Scout, he participated in a project at the Netunno Memorial Cemetery honoring American, Italian and people from other countries who died in World War II. They cleaned up the cemetery and placed American and Italian flags on the gravesites.
Sutton said he wanted to learn all he could about NASA and space. "I also wanted to lean more about how big the galaxy is by estimation, how the planets got into orbit and what different uses there are for satellites and how they're made," he wrote in his essay.
"He volunteers on Sunday at the children's church, where he helps the younger kids," Jones said.
Maria Tucker, a freshman at Fort Knox (Ky.) High School when selected, also graduated from space camp Aug. 8. The daughter of Army Sgt. 1st Class Charles Tucker Jr., she started high school at age 12, had a 4.375 grade point average and tied with her best friend as the class' top student.
"She's either in superior or honor programs in all of her courses, and math and science are two of her favorite courses," Jones said.
"All my life, I've made every effort to do the very best at any and every activity I've attempted, including ballet and pointe, playing the oboe, volleyball, tumbling, volunteering at my local church, helping out at a homeless shelter, co-teaching religious education, walking for a pro-life organization," Tucker wrote in her essay.
She also participates in "Teen Discovery" meetings at Fort Knox to help improve the lives of teenagers at the installation.
Tucker said she would use the knowledge she attained from space camp "to enrich my community by enlightening friends, acquaintances and anyone else who will listen, to the wonders of outer space, the stars and planets and the mysteries of the universe enshrouded by ignorance and skepticism."
Scholarship recipient London H. Durand was a sixth grade student at Amelia Earhart Intermediate School in Okinawa, Japan, at the time of selection. The daughter of Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Gregory Durand, Jones said she is a straight "A" student who wants to become an aeronautical engineer.
Durand is slated to attend space camp from Aug. 16 to Aug. 22.
Her accomplishments in community service are numerous, Jones noted. "She's a lead altar server in church, participates in many theater activities, a Girl Scout for five years and secretary of her student council," the general said. "Her favorite subjects are math and science. She was an American ambassador to the Yoran Island Adventure School for Kids, which is where more than 400 children from Japan, Indonesia and Americans from Okinawa are selected for this multicultural event."
"I'm a space freak," Durand wrote in her space camp essay. "Nothing interests me more than becoming an American astronaut and traveling into space."
She said, "If I'm selected for space came, I'll use the knowledge for the rest of my life. Not only will I learn new and fascinating things about space, but I'll also learn life-long lessons."
Amanda Johnson, who is scheduled to attend space camp from Dec. 28 to Jan. 2, was in the eighth grade at Vandenberg Middle School, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., when chosen to receive a scholarship.
The daughter of Air Force Master Sgt. Larry Johnson, she's in the math, science, English and history honors classes. "She takes advanced band and Spanish as optional courses," Jones said, and is "a member of the Civil Air Patrol, where she has attained the grade of cadet technical sergeant. Her hobbies include reading, riding a bike and playing with the dog.
"She's the leader of the squadron color guard, where she carries the American flag in parades and ceremonies," Jones noted. "Her ambition after high school is to attend Embry Riddle University and earn a degree as an aeronautical engineer."
"As an engineer, I would like to be part of the space program's future," Johnson said in her essay. "I would like to help develop future space vehicles and teach others about the value of a strong space program. During my career, I would also like to serve as a test pilot and be an astronaut, which is my life-long dream."
"These youngsters have been remarkably involved in their community," Jones said. "Selecting the five recipients was one of the toughest jobs MCEC has ever gone though because there were so many excellent applications."