Civil Air Patrol's Aerospace Connections in Education (ACE) program has officially lifted off for the 2021-2022 school year, with a double national ACE award recipient in Texas for 2021 doing the honors as host for the launch. .
Creekside Elementary School in Livingston, was recognized as the 2021 National ACE School of the Year, and the school’s ACE coordinator, physical education teacher Melanie Justice, is the 2021 National ACE Coordinator of the Year. Justice integrates science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) lessons throughout her curriculum. She has recruited co-workers – called the ACE Flight Crew – to assist in ACE lesson presentations.

Justice coordinated the ACE liftoff, which included community leaders as well as area schools, the Air Force Association, CAP squadrons and the Texas Wing. The students all wore distinctive purple ACE shirts provided by CAP and the Air Force Association’s Houston Concho Chapter.

The Livingston Volunteer Fire Department provided a bucket truck for the more than 500 students to participate in a commemorative parachute drop in recognition of the CAP-provided activity booklet, “Uncle Wiggly Wings,” recounting Col. Gail Halvorsen’s candy airdrops to German children during the Berlin Airlift.

A cadet color guard from the Conroe 7-6 Air Calvary Composite Squadron raised the American flag for the liftoff, while several members from the Nacogdoches Composite Squadron assisted – including Cadet Jadyn Justice, who led the Pledge of Allegiance.

The Texas Wing coordinated a Teacher Orientation Program flight, with Lt. Col. Dan Crum of the Delta Composite Squadron flying over the school while Deanna Willmann, assistant principal, spoke to the students from above via sound system while teacher Samantha Sanders took aerial photos of the school and students.

After the group event, students moved on to several outdoor STEM activities while guests visited with them and learned about their experiences with CAP’s ACE and STEM Kit programs.

ACE Facts:

  • Since the ACE program’s inception in 2007, over 2,500 schools in all 50 states have participated, reaching almost 500,000 students. Almost 70,000 students nationwide are already registered for the ACE program this year.
  • Teachers report a 27% increase in ACE students’ science thinking skills.
  • 96% of ACE teachers say ACE fits well with skills/standards/concepts they are required to teach.
  • The Air Force Association sponsors the annual ACE award grants and end-of-year certificates, with chapters around the country supporting ACE classes.
  • CAP squadrons across the nation also reach out to support ACE classes.
  • Registration is open from Aug. 1-March 1.

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