Sunday, September 26, 2010

Are the skies friendlier in Highland than Augusta for the Rocket Boys?

For background on the Rocket Boys case, please see the series of articles here.

A missed opportunity for education in Augusta County could turn into an eagerly embraced activity in neighboring Highland County.

The Valley AeroSpace Team (VAST) may have found a new home in Highland after an anonymous landowner's complaint and the Augusta Board of Zoning ran them out of this area in the summer of 2009. The new location involves a 1 1/2-hour drive over the mountains for most who live in the Augusta County area.

Highland offered open arms to the family-friendly science of rocketry, expressing delight at having the dedicated volunteers come to their community to guide youth in a hands-on teaching experience reminiscent of the Rocket Boys in the "October Sky" movie about Homer Hickam who went on to become a NASA scientist.

Tony Gonzalez with the Waynesboro News Virginian wrote of VAST's exhibition in Highland:
A rocketry club booted out of Augusta County in a hotly contested zoning dispute launched again Friday in a neighboring county to the west.

Highland County students screamed with delight, pointed skyward and applauded uproariously during a rocketry demonstration coordinated between the club, officials with the school district and the county economic development office.

For the Valley Aerospace Team, or VAST, the rolling land south of Monterey has promise as a new home for their hobby rocket launches. School and county officials embraced the team, increased rocketry-related science lessons in schools and helped pinpoint a good property for launches.
Young people in rural areas are in need of entertainment and educational opportunities to prevent drunken partying, vandalism, drugs, gang participation, and other negatives from not having "something to do." VAST offered that opportunity for budding scientists, a safe event for families to enjoy.

Augusta County is, in my opinion, short-sighted when it comes to looking into the future. Our youth are our future ... "to teach is to touch the future." What a shame a number of local leaders cannot see that.

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