VIDEO: Fly-in for drug prevention

Published 3:11 pm Saturday, May 30, 2009

Near the end of the school year, students minds wonder and they are prone to staring out the window. Hayfield Elementary School students had a lot to stare at when a Minnesota National Guard Black Hawk helicopter landed near their playground on Friday.

The fly-in was made possible by the D.A.R.E. program, along with the Minnesota National Guard Drug Demand Reduction Program.

Chief Warrant Officer Josh Jacobson, Lt. Andrew Lang and Sgt. First Class Greg Crow landed their almost 64-foot-long helicopter on the grass outside of the school to the screams and applause of Hayfield Elementary students.

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After landing, Jacobson invited students and teachers over to learn what he and his team do, how the helicopter works and about making good decisions.

Students were excited to learn about the huge aircraft that had taken over their schoolyard, and after a very basic coordination test (which consisted of rubbing their bellies and patting their heads) a number of them volunteered to jump in the pilot seat.

Although no new pilots were found, students were nonetheless excited to get a hands-on look at such a powerful machine.

Dodge County Deputy Shannon Boerner, the Hayfield D.A.R.E. officer, set up the fly-in after learning about the National Guard’s program at a conference in February.

Fifth-graders at Hayfield recently graduated from their 11-week D.A.R.E. class. Once a week for 45 minutes, students met in the classroom with Dodge County Deputy Shannon Boerner, their D.A.R.E. officer, and learned about making healthy choices.

“I enjoy going into the schools and meeting the kids,” Boerner said. “They’ve all been great.”

Boerner, who has been involved in the D.A.R.E. program since 2005, said the biggest hurtle to clear was scheduling a time that would work for the National Guard as well as the schools the Black Hawk would be stopping at. The helicopter had scheduled stops at Mantorville and Triton.

“I like that we have a deputy coming in. He brings in his enforcement experience,” Wilk said.

Hayfield has had a D.A.R.E. program for 13 years.

“It’s different,” said fifth grade teacher Deb Wilk, “and the kids enjoy it.”

This year more than 50 fifth-graders graduated from the program.

The UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters have been in service in both combat and civil duties since 1974. Black Hawks have been used in combat conditions, search and rescue operations, fire fighting missions and to support flood relief. They sport 3,000 horsepower motors and 53-foot diameter rotors.