What an opportunity

Published 10:43 am Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Southampton Middle School students were treated to a wonderful program on Friday.

Students were visited by the engineer from NASA who oversaw the agency’s effort to design the capsule used for last month’s rescue of 33 Chilean miners trapped half a mile below the earth’s surface for 69 days.

A retired Navy submarine commander, Clint Cragg gave a PowerPoint presentation on NASA’s efforts, which involved 20 of its engineers from across the nation.

Students can thank sixth- and seventh-graders in the gifted program for inviting Cragg to speak. At the time, the students were reading “The Diary of Anne Frank,” the story of a young Jewish teen and her family’s experiences in hiding during the German Nazi occupation of the Netherlands.

Middle school gifted program teacher Jane Stephenson had her students compare the plight of Frank’s family to that of the miners, who became trapped when a portion of the mine collapsed in early August.

Students followed the drama as it unraveled and watched a portion of the rescue on CNN, witnessing the rescue of two miners.

Cragg, who lives in nearby Yorktown, certainly held the students’ attention during his program. Soft-spoken and somewhat reserved, the 55-year-old father of three did an excellent job of providing information at a level where students could understand.