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Shive students set their sights high

By Maggie Blackwell
For the Salisbury Post

SALISBURY — Students at Shive Elementary School got to see the Novant helicopter up close and personal last week, thanks to an initiative by Principal Zebbie Bondurant.

“The community around Shive is very close,” Bondurant said, “but some of our children have limited experiences.”

Bondurant asked flight nurse Misty Faavesi, her neighbor, to consider a visit to Shive.

“I don’t want you to come talk about being a flight nurse, but talk about passion and life skills,” Bondurant said. “Kids today don’t know what they want to be when they grow up. So we are trying to teach them life skills — shaking hands, tying a tie. Not everyone will be a doctor or nurse. It’s OK to be a mechanic or work in construction. Misty is doing her dream job, but she didn’t know about flight nursing when she was a kid.”

Once Faavesi agreed, Bondurant handed the project off to school counselor Elizabeth Gillis.

Gillis contacted Faavesi and told her about Shive’s life skills program, asking her and the flight team to visit Shive. She asked Faavesi to share the life skills that led her to her job.

Faavesi spoke to students in grades three through five.

“She talked a lot about perseverance, about challenges in her life and failures in her life,” Gillis said. “But she persisted. Our kids were captivated. She was real. She didn’t talk about being a flight nurse. She talked about having a goal and not letting things stop her in her drive to achieve. She related it to the students not giving up, to keep on trying. Everyone can relate to failure and disappointments — and having the helicopter here was the icing on cake.”

Bondurant agrees.

“Not only did Misty share her challenges, but medic Bradley Daniels shared that he is afraid of heights,” Bondurant said. “He won’t climb a ladder but he rides in a helicopter every day.”

It was a day to remember for the students. Third-grader Josalynn Burris embraced the experience.

“I felt pretty excited we were going to see a helicopter and it was going to be at our school,” said Josalynn. “When I heard her journey to become a flight nurse, I was really inspired.

“I related to it when she talked about never give up. I had a hard trick in dance a few weeks ago. I kept on trying, but finally I said, ‘I can’t do it, I give up.’ The next day I tried it one more time. I got it. Now I can do it.”

Lysia Carpenter, also a third-grader, was inspired to become a flight nurse when she grows up.

“I like helping people and doing stuff for them,” Lysia said. “I asked a lot of questions about the helicopter. I really liked it.”

Fourth-grader Landon Austin is more interested in the mechanics of a helicopter.

“I asked if it works like a car, does it pump in air and make a spark, and they said yes,” Landon said. “It has 150 horsepower. That’s a lot of power for just air. It has two engines to help carry all the weight. They have lots of tools and gas. The propellers must be pretty strong to pick up all the speed and be aerodynamic.”

Bondurant said Landon also asked how the nurses can work on patients with the helicopter wobbling in the air. “He really thought things through,” she said.

Jaden Eudy is also in fourth grade.

“Now I want to be a helicopter driver,” Jaden said. “They said to keep on trying and if you fall down, keep pushing and go harder. One time I wanted to play baseball and I had to try out and I didn’t make it. The next tryout, I pushed harder and I made it that time.”

The helicopter impressed even the youngest students at Shive.

“The helicopter was flying in the sky,” said Colton Byrd, a pre-kindergartner. “It was going to help the people who get sick. They’re going to take the people to the hospital. It was big. I looked inside.”

Bondurant and Gillis aren’t sure what the next big adventure will be, but they agree it will be hard to beat the helicopter visit.

“Seeing the helicopter is something they may have never experienced and may not experience again,” said Gillis. “Giving them the exposure to new experiences will open doors. I’m a big believer that experience is the best educator. This adventure was so fantastic. We are thinking and planning for the next one.”

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