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El Paso County Colorado District 49

Falcon student benefits from national leadership academy

Justin Planck, a senior at Falcon High School in Falcon School District 49, spent a week in late February at the Honeywell Leadership Challenge Academy, held at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. The center hosted 320 students from 30 states nationwide and 36 countries.According to the leadership academyís website, ìHCLA uses interactive technology, science-oriented workshops and team exercises to teach children of Honeywell employees between the ages of 16-8 leadership skills in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The program is designed to build the studentsí leadership skills and develop their capabilities through hands-on challenges.îStudents participate in about 45 hours of classroom, laboratory and field training, including simulated moon walks and space capsule flights. Additionally, students participate in stress-inducing, time-sensitive physical challenges and a mini-biotech camp to hone their critical thinking skills.Planck said he had a great experience, although he and another student arrived a day late, because of a flight delay that kept them in Houston for nine hours. Once settled, Planck said he was able to experience an astronautís ride that included the centrifuge, shuttle flight simulator and aircraft flight simulator.ìWe mostly talk to the people behind the scenes who work for NASA, like the ones who built the Saturn five rocket,î he said. Student teams completed in challenges, which tested their ability to work as a team, Planck said.This opportunity fit well with Planckís future plans. ìI have done a few leadership academies previously from the ROTC, and decided that I wanted to become a bit more prepared for my future,î he said. In the fall, Planck will attend Metropolitan State University of Denver, where he plans to study aerospace science.The experience also taught him to focus more on teamwork and less on himself, Planck said. ìThat is also going to benefit me because Iím going to be partaking in a lot of engineering sciences, and you have to make sure that everyone can focus in a group to make sure the project is created efficiently,î he said.ìI would definitely do it again. It was a great experience, and meeting everyone from different countries and cultures was great.î

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