Retired teacher reviving Earth Shuttle

Earth Shuttle, the program begun more than 15 years ago by then-Oak Heights teacher Lauri Carlson, is returning to the school district.

Carlson is planning a trip for next spring, which would give students from all the schools in the district a chance to travel to Florida and spend six days at the Kennedy Space Center, Busch Gardens, Sea World, Discovery Cove, Gatorland, Epcot Center and Disney World Theme Park. Each of the stops offers an educational component as well as free time, organizers say.

Florence Walraven, who is helping to organize the trip, said the program went on hold after Carlson retired in 2008, which was the last year a trip happened.

“Laurie didn’t want to do it last year because it was the first year of her retirement,” Walraven said. “But she’s decided she wanted to do it again, so she went to the superintendent (Larry Horton) and got approval.”

The education travel program provided fourth- through sixth-grade students a variety of hands on activities, subject-oriented attractions, human resources, and instructional materials developed and supervised by national recognized curriculum experts.

The education objective of the program is to actively involve students effectively in each of the exhibits, Walraven said.

Wendi Melcher, whose two sons went on the trips two years apart, said it was “a blast and a great educational trip.

“Lauri Carlson is a truly amazing woman with great energy and she loves kids and makes learning fun,” Melcher said. “We would do this trip again in a heartbeat; it’s worth every penny. We learned a lot and we had a ton of fun. It’s a great experience since you get to do some behind-the-scenes things that you normally wouldn’t get to do, like going on a safari and feeding the giraffes and getting up close and personal with them.”

Walraven said the plan is to do the trip in late April, 2011. Parents are welcome to accompany their children. Those interested should contact Walraven at (541) 367-5838 or Carlson at (541) 401-3148.

When enough people have expressed interest, a meeting will be held at Oak Heights School to discuss the travel program and answer questions.