Twenty-eight local middle schoolers were treated to an insider’s trip to the Reagan Presidential Library Discovery Center and came back with a new respect for our nation’s leaders.
Seventh grader Makenna Downing reflected the opinions of many in the group when she observed, “This was truly an experience of a lifetime that I will never forget.” Makenna took on the role of the Wall Street Journal lead reporter at the White House Press Room.
Friends of Ronald Reagan Sports Park raised the money to send this first busload of Temecula students to experience a Discovery Center educational program which, in order to make it seem as real as possible, the general public is not allowed to see.
Sarah Maria Fenton, an eighth grader who assumed the role of Defense Secretary Harold Brown, put it succinctly, “The Discovery Center made me realize that one wrong move could make an enormous impact on the world.”
Makenna and Sarah are students at St. Jeanne de Lestonnac, as were most of the group. By winning the Mayor’s Trophy on Can-Do Day last year, they earned the lion’s share of participants in the program. This year’s Trophy winner, Linfield Christian School, will be offered most of next summer’s slots.
The Trophy is awarded to the elementary school whose third and fourth grade students submit the greatest number of qualified essays
In the annual contest
Each student taking part in this year’s inaugural trip was given a chartered bus round trip ride to and from the Reagan Library, treated to a box lunch that was given a thumbs up by all, and a souvenir T-shirt that has a picture of the Berlin Wall segment that stands at the Reagan Library, with the quote, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” On the back is the equation, “Initiative + Independence = FREEDOM. The only cost to students was a $10.00 register fee.
T-shirt sponsorships and other donations are solicited to cover costs.
Teachers, who were from the winning school, attend as chaperones and help brief the students on the crisis before the trip to the Library.
All their expenses are paid.
This year’s sponsors were Assemblyman Kevin Jeffries, Joan Sparkman, Chuck Whitehead and the Temecula Valley Chamber of Commerce.
“We hope to attract more sponsors as the program becomes better known,” said FRRSP president Perry Peters. “There will be no problem attracting kids once they start talking about their experience.
To say they were enthusiastic about their roles as advisors and decision-makers would be a gross understatement.”
Additional comments by the students regarding their experiences will be posted on this website. Selected students will be available to share their experience with program chairs of organizations that need speakers.
A large part of FRRSP expenses are drawn from the annual dues paid by the organization’s Can-Do Club members. Prospective Can-Do members and other contributors may make a donation by PayPal.
Vice Director, Joint Chiefs of Staff, Major General George B. Crist
(7th grader Kellen Harter, left) confers with Admiral Wesley L,
McDonald (7th grader Rachel Bluth), one of two Supreme NATO
Commanders with overall command of Operation Urgent Fury,
and Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral James David Watkins
(Cianna Sanford, right, 8th grade). General Crist was the first
Marine to be named Commander in Chief of the U.S. Central
Command. (Students are from St. Jeanne de Lestonnac.)
The TV screen provides these members of the Command Center
with up-to-the-minute developments at the scene of the action, as
the on-the-ground leaders await instructions. The site of the
battle is top secret, going only by the name Operatin Urgent Fury.
All titles listed were at the time of this battle that occurred during
President Reagan's Administration.