By David Broyles
Mt. Airy News, The (NC)
September 11, 2014
Battle of the Books (BOB) Teams from Rockford, Dobson, and Copeland teamed up on a first-of-a-kind field trip to help students make real world connections Wednesday as they talked with pilots Mark and Jenette Hege at the Mount Airy-Surry County Airport.
Mark Hege is a corporate pilot for Renfro Corp., and his wife, Jenette, who also flew for the company, were on hand to field questions about airplanes and take students from the three schools on a tour of their Learjet in its hangar at the airfield. Mount Park Elementary plans to join in more joint field trips in the future.
“Usually, the most common questions I get are how high and how fast does the plane go,” said Mark Hege. “Or have I ever crashed. My answer is no to that one.”
It’s all about recognizing and remembering the details for Rockford BOB coach Pattie Holcomb. She explained the field trip was inspired by the work “Hatchet” written by Gary Paulsen. The 1987 work, the first in a series, won the Newbery Honor. It centers on a 13-year-old traveling on a Cessna 406 bush plane to visit his father in the oil fields in northern Canada for the summer.
The pilot suffers a massive heart attack and dies and the boy crashes into a lake in the forest. He must then learn to survive on his own, with nothing but his hatchet, a gift his mother gave him shortly before his plane departed. Holcomb said earlier attempts had been rained out.
“We are trying to make real world connections with activities like this,” said Holcomb. “We’re also trying to tie the central district together better. Another benefit is when they get to competition they aren’t facing strangers.”
She said she had noticed the students “picking up on things” better and remembering details. Other similar activities have included a BOB lock-in at Rockford Elementary, Surry Central athletes playing wiffle ball — the book had a baseball theme — with the teams. She said another important part of the group trips was to make more ties in the community.
Rockford Coach Rebecca Bennett said she enjoyed teams paired up with five pieces of paper and set the task of designing and making the most airplanes which could fly into a “safe zone.”
“This is the first time we have done this together as teams,” said Bennett. “They had to really get down to some decisions and work together to make five different models of (paper) airplanes. They are making the connections. One pointed out we were looking at a jet and not the bush plane int he book.”
Other events being planned include a night long scavenger hunt in various school libraries to supplement them reading the book, “Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library” and a candy making workshop with Surry Central culinary arts students inspired by the book, “The Candymakers.”
David Broyles may be reached at 336-415-4739 or on Twitter@MtAiryNewsDave.