Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Helicopters, firefighters and politicians descend on area schools for Teach-In

ST. PETERSBURG — The children of Bay Point Elementary were amazed at the sight of a huge Black Hawk helicopter sitting on their P.E. field Wednesday morning.

The aircraft and its crew were visiting as part of the Great American Teach-In. Hundreds of parents and volunteers across the Tampa Bay area went to schools to talk about their careers, which included everything from firefighters to politicians to scientists to document shredders.

But one of the coolest props was the Black Hawk, operated by the six-person "Phoenix Dustoff" Army MedEvac unit out of the St. Petersburg-Clearwater airport.

"Do you guys know what an ambulance is?" Maj. Michael E. Alvis asked the Bay Point students. "Well, we're an air ambulance."

Alvis explained the various parts of the helicopter, noting that devices on the sides were not bombs.

Just before first period at Benito Middle School in New Tampa, Chuck Echeniqe walked into a class full of sleepy-eyed seventh graders with traces of mud still on his boots. He wore camouflage and carried a bang stick, which he planned to tell the kids was designed to put a bullet into the head of an alligator.

"What did you have for dinner last night," he asked them. Many said meat.

He espoused the benefits of professional hunting – population control, economics and fun. He showed them his duck call and his turkey call then played a video of a night time gator hunt.

By the end of the video, some of the kids were hiding their faces and others were screaming, "Awesome!

A few classrooms over, NASA representative Lisa Arnold enumerated the many things we can thank the space program for: Ingestible toothpaste. Wireless Headseats. Memory foam mattresses.

Maurcus Smith, 13 raised his hand.

He asked what would happen if someone jumped off the space station. Would they land on earth?

"No," she said. "You'd burn up and die."

Facebook, the popular online social networking site, was filled with status updates from people everywhere who were excited, anxious or proud to be speaking at area schools Wednesday morning.

"Great American Teach In at Gibbs High this morning," Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch posted. "Very sharp, forward thinking students!"

Hillsborough County Commissioner Mark Sharpe posted, "Listening to a great school chorus — Dad's Breakfast — will be speaking to several elementary classes today."

And Ana Cruz, a Tampa-based Democratic consultant who is a senior adviser to U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek's campaign, said she was at Lake Magdalene Elementary School, "talking to 2nd graders about elections."

"They are so cute," she posted.

Emily Nipps can be reached at or (727) 893-8452.

Helicopters, firefighters and politicians descend on area schools for Teach-In 11/18/09 [Last modified: Thursday, November 19, 2009 8:44am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays Journal: Duda home run sets Rays record


    BALTIMORE -- With one swing of the bat, Rays DH/1B Lucas Duda broke a team record and tied a personal mark in Saturday's game against the Orioles that was not complete at press time.

    Lucas Duda, right, watches his three-run home run against the Orioles.
  2. Brooksville motorcyclist crashes into pole, dies


    BROOKSVILLE — A motorcyclist crashed into a utility pole and died Saturday evening, the Florida Highway Patrol reported.

  3. Woman dead in St. Petersburg shooting


    ST. PETERSBURG — A woman died in a shooting Saturday night, according to the St. Petersburg Police Department.

  4. For starters: Rays at Orioles, with a different look to things


    The Rays wrap up their four-game series with the Orioles today and their lineup has a different look, with C Wilson Ramos, OF Steven Souza Jr. and 3B Evan Longoria all getting the day off.

    The Rays are starting their All-Star, RHP Chris Archer, who needs wins in his final two outings to even his record, going …

  5. All-eyes photo gallery: Florida State Seminoles loss to the N.C. State Wolfpack


    View a gallery of images from the Florida State Seminoles 27-21 loss to the N.C. State Wolfpack Saturday in Tallahassee. The Seminoles will face Wake Forest on Saturday, Sept. 30 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

    Florida State Seminoles fans sing the fight song during the Florida State Seminoles game against the North Carolina State Wolfpack on September 23, 2017, at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, Fla.  At the half, North Carolina State Wolfpack 17, Florida State Seminoles 10.