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Garwood students heading to weeklong NASA space camp


Garwood Elementary fourth-grader Taylor Caswell, left and fifth-grader Sarah Jacobsen were chosen to take part in U.S. Space Camp at NASA in Huntsville, Ala. Jim Stein, center, of Stein's IGA in Rathdrum is sponsoring Taylor. Sarah was chosen nationally and will be sponsored by IGA Regional. 
 (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)
Garwood Elementary fourth-grader Taylor Caswell, left and fifth-grader Sarah Jacobsen were chosen to take part in U.S. Space Camp at NASA in Huntsville, Ala. Jim Stein, center, of Stein's IGA in Rathdrum is sponsoring Taylor. Sarah was chosen nationally and will be sponsored by IGA Regional. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)

Two students from Garwood Elementary will attend a summer camp that is almost out-of-this-world. Sarah Jacobsen, 11, who will enter sixth grade in the fall, and Taylor Caswell, 9, entering fifth grade, will attend U.S. Space Camp in Huntsville, Ala. Aug. 15-20

Every year IGA grocery stores nationwide sponsors a contest for students to go to space camp. Taylor was chosen locally out of hundreds of essays. Sarah entered the same contest. All of the essays nationwide were sent in to IGA headquarters in Chicago, and Sarah was one of four chosen nationally.

“This is a real honor that two of our students are going from Garwood,” said Taylor’s teacher Carol Uptagrafft.

Taylor earned her way by writing the winning essay on what astronaut, past or present, she would like to talk to and what she would say. She wrote that she would want to meet and talk to Neil Armstrong. Taylor asked, “What would happen if the rocket didn’t take off from the moon?” and “What was it like to be the first man on the moon?”

Sarah entered the contest under the artistic component. Sarah designed a mission patch. For every space mission, the astronauts actually design their own mission patch. Sarah’s patch combines space exploration with elements of her own life. It depicts a space shuttle with eleven stars – her age – surrounding the shuttle. There is a horse in the wild, reflecting her love of the outdoors; Earth, an astronaut and the Milky Way share one quadrant; a butterfly on a finger is another; and a chalkboard in the middle represents Sarah’s first priority — school. She wants to be a chemist when she grows up.

Only 80 children nationwide get this opportunity. Two students from the same school to be attending the NASA camp is unprecedented. Only four teachers nationwide are allowed to attend, and by the luck of the draw Uptagrafft got to go last year. Sarah’s teacher, Cindy Clabby, said that both girls are honor roll students. Sarah has attended Garwood since kindergarten, and Taylor transferred from John Brown Elementary, also in the Lakeland School District, last year.

“We grow them smart here,” said Clabby, “smart and talented!”

Sarah and Taylor will stay in space-age looking tubular dorms, and participate in a simulated mission. They will be assigned a job and instructed in their particular position. They will experience a space shot, which simulates a rocket launch, including a two and a half second liftoff to 140 feet. They also will experience weightlessness and a G-Force accelerator.

The week ends with a graduation ceremony beneath the only full-size shuttle stack displayed in the world.

Stein’s IGA in Rathdrum sponsored the contest locally. All expenses for Taylor are paid for by Stein’s IGA and the scholarship for Sarah is paid for by IGA Regional.

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