BEDFORD – The convocation day Friday at Bedford Middle School brought excitement and anticipation to the students and staff during “Charlie Walker Day”.
This year, the Bedford Middle School used a space theme to assign students to teams for group learning.
The teams consisted of the Apollos, Dragon, and Voyager, just to name a few of the various groups that would incorporate STEM learning this school year.
This concept would allow the students to feel they were in education together as one big team, and to learn together as a group.
Bedford Middle School Science teacher Jennifer Gratzer thought it would be neat to connect with Bedford’s own Astronaut Charlie Walker and allow students to be engaged in a question and answer session with Walker.
With the school already using a space theme, the choice of using Walker as a contributor was a win situation for the school.
Walker who is a graduate of Bedford High School agreed to be part of this special day.
“Science teacher Jennifer Gratzer, other teachers, and Principal Lucas Calhoun thought I would create a personal connection to the students in their studies,” said Charlie Walker, of Tucson, Arizona.
Walker’s occupations and career included working at Crane Naval Base, forest firefighter, then went on to be a civilian astronaut.
Principal Calhoun gave an introduction and biography of Charlie Walker, then Walker appeared virtually giving students educational and life experience advice, listened to their questions, and answered them.
Principal Calhoun used the below video “to get the students hyped up on what is happening at NASA”.
” I think I made that connection, I know, I remember as a student, that personal connection, a Stonecutter Connection to things, we all see as big happenings, possibilities, is impactful,” said Walker
Walker wanted the students to realize what and where they want to go with their education and in their career is entirely up to them. It doesn’t matter if they decide they want to stay within the community they love or to choose a career that can take them across the country or world – in Charlie’s case above this world.
“The hour I spent with Bedford Middle School students made me feel like it was a homecoming. At least in a small way. And in these days that isn’t small, it felt big and I thoroughly enjoyed it,” said Walker.
Prior to the virtual meeting on Friday, a list of questions was formulated by the students that would be asked to Walker.
“The questions of the students were well thought out and Charlie answered them precisely encouraging them that they can do whatever they wanted to do, with determination and with many cheering them on to reach that goal in life where they want to be,” said Lucas Calhoun Bedford Middle School Principal.
During the day the 30-second warning bell was transformed to music-themes towards space such as, “Rocket Man” by Elton John or “Fly Me To The Moon” by Frank Sinatra.
The final bell played the countdown to STS-41-D of NASA’s Space Shuttle Program and the first mission of Space Shuttle Discovery.
Shuttle Discovery was launched from Kennedy Space Center, Florida on August 30, 1984, and landed at Edwards Airforce Base, California on September 5, 1984. There was a total of six crew members on board including Charlie Walker.
Walker flew three Space Shuttle missions, one in 1984 and two in 1985 as a payload specialist for McDonell Douglas Corporation. He was the first non-government individual to fly into space.
Charlie Walker graduated from Bedford High School in 1966. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering from Purdue University in 1971.
“Hey, a day named for you! A person has to like that, and feel honored by it, I sure did,” Walker added. “My wife said I had a glow about me, and I felt that it was great to be thought of in this way.”
Principal Calhoun felt honored and priveldged to have Walker speak to the students.
“I hope this challenged the students and will have a lasting impact on them,” Calhoun concluded.