Civil Air Patrol, Air Force Association Announce 2016-2017 National ACE Lift-off

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St. Aloysius Catholic School in Yoder, Ind., chosen to host 9th annual event.

The ninth annual Aerospace Connections in Education (ACE) National Lift-off will be from 10 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. Friday, October 28, at St. Aloysius Catholic School in Yoder, Indiana.

The ACE program is provided by Civil Air Patrol (CAP) to schools across the nation. The Air Force Association (AFA) is the presenting sponsor of the program.

St. Aloysius, a K-8th grade school in Yoder, near Fort Wayne, was selected to host the 2016-2017 event as recognition for being named the 2016 National ACE School, and having both a 2016 National ACE Student and the 2016 National ACE Educator at the school, Tony Vining.

Tina Voors, principal of St. Aloysius, is excited to host this free K-8th grade STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) program, stating, “Our school has been so blessed to have Commander Tony Vining, the Fort Wayne CAP squadron commander, as our volunteer ACE instructor each Monday for two years, teaching our students about STEM via the ACE program. To be honored as the national lift-off site this year is quite humbling and challenging, as we want to continue to make this program more beneficial to all of our students!”

Special guests attending the National Lift-off will be Sue Mercer and Susan Mallett, members of the ACE team from CAP National Headquarters, as well as dedicated volunteer members from Indiana’s CAP and AFA. Lt. Col. Sam Hornbuckle, the CAP Indiana Wing chief of staff, will represent CAP’s Indiana Wing, along with the Indiana Wing director of aerospace education, Lt. Col. Frank Merrill.

The local Fort Wayne CAP squadron will be represented by Vining, as well as Cadet Tech. Sgt. Robert “RJ” Anderson, who is currently taking his private pilot lessons as a CAP cadet. Cadet Airmen 1st Class Samuel Sharp and Thomas Baxter plan to join Anderson in trying to inform intermediate students about the benefits of CAP cadet programs with STEM career exploration, flying and scholarship opportunities.

Another honored guest will be Capt. David Ehrman, a CAP pilot and leader of aerospace education and cadet programs in the Fort Wayne squadron. Ehrman is the 24th recipient of the Gen. Carl A. Spaatz Award, which is the highest honor achieved by CAP cadets.

Representing the Air Force Association will be the AFA’s Great Lakes Region president, Paul Lyons, and the Fort Wayne AFA Chapter 143 president, Brandon Monticue.

Fort Wayne AFA Chapter 143 is the sponsor for St. Aloysius Catholic School, providing ACE shirts for each student. Lyons, who is also a member of Chapter 143, noted, “The AFA in Indiana is very pleased to be able to provide financial and personnel support to the educators at St. Aloysius in an effort to fulfill the AFA’s mission to spread interest in and preparation for STEM careers in both the civilian and military sectors. Working with young people, to help inspire them toward new ideas for their futures, is quite exciting to our AFA membership and we are proud to be a part of this relevant, free STEM program for schools.”

Friday’s event will include a Lutheran Air helicopter landing and static display/tours on the school grounds, as well as several STEM speakers who hope to motivate students toward an interest in STEM subjects and careers.

Starr Martin, the 5th-8th grade reading and science teacher at St. Aloysius who helps Vining conduct the school’s ACE program, will be honored with a free CAP Teacher Orientation Program (TOP) flight over the school during the program. During Martin’s flyover, students and staff on the ground will stand in a cross formation to represent the school, and she will take aerial photographs of the activity.

The students also will release red balloons for drug-free awareness. The balloons will be attached with tags to be returned to the school so the students can track where and how far they traveled.

After the National Lift-off program, the students will be involved in STEM activities for the rest of the day.

The ACE program is provided at no cost to schools across the nation by Civil Air Patrol and the Air Force Association. Aimed at grades K-6 (to grade 8), the grade-level specific program uses an aerospace theme to enhance all academic subjects (emphasis on STEM), as well as promote good character and physical fitness. Since the program’s inception in 2007, more than 100,000 students in 38 states have been involved in the program that increases early interest in STEM careers.

School contact:
Principal Tina Voors
14607 Bluffton Road
Yoder, IN 46798
260-622-7151
tvoors(at)saintaloysiusyoder(dot)info

CAP/AFA contact: Susan Mallett
afa(at)capnhq(dot)gov
334-201-5224

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Steve Cox

Julie DeBardelaben
Civil Air Patrol
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