Ind. After-School Program Recognized for ACE Participation
Maj. William Vendramin
Public Affairs Officer
The Thrive after-school program in Mount Vernon, Indiana, has been recognized with the 2020 Civil Air Patrol National Aerospace Connections in Education Collaborative Point of Light Program Award.
Thrive is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing kindergartners through eighth-graders at West Elementary and Mtount Vernon Junior High.with enriching after-school programming. Joy Millay, executive director, described Thrive’s approach as seeking “to foster curiosity and discovery in our students, because that is how you create lifelong learners.”
“The ability to create curiosity is what made our partnership with Civil Air Patrol and the Air Force Association so incredibly valuable for our students,” Millay said.
Thrive worked closely with the Indiana Wing’s RiverCity Cadet Squadron and the AFA’s P-47 Memorial Chapter, with members of both teaching CAP-provided ACE (Aerospace Connections in Education) lessons after school.
Lt. Col. Brian Schmuck, the Indiana Wing’s chief of staff for missions, launched the ACE program at Thrive for the 2019-2020 school year using a strong collaborative approach that incorporated local CAP and AFA members.
“This award is a significant accomplishment and really showcases a community-wide effort in youth STEM education for Mount Vernon,” Schmuck said. "We want to see school and community groups leveraging partnerships within their community to fully realize the benefits and potential offered in the ACE program.”
Cadet Chief Master Sgt. Rylee Schmuck led instruction for many of the first-grade ACE classes, which the 14-year-old said “gave me a lot of good leadership experience. I think being closer to their age, it made me more approachable and I was a role model they could look up to. I learned a lot from teaching the aerospace lessons.”
Col. Robert W. Freese, Indiana Wing commander, and retired Air Force Chief Master Sgt. L.D. “Chick” Duncan, Air Force Association’s P-47 Memorial Chapter, presented the award to Thrive.
“The Thrive program, AFA and Civil Air Patrol's dedication to service and aerospace education have formed a partnership that is very deserving of the recognition Thrive received,” Freese said. “The educational opportunity, fun and energy of the local CAP squadron is exactly what is needed for all to grow into outstanding leaders of the future.”.
“Listening to the young students at Thrive describe the CAP ACE program is truly rewarding,” said retired Air Force Chief Master Sgt. L.D. “Chick” Duncan, the AFA chapter’s president. “It is a true pleasure to be associated with these programs and the young cadets of the RiverCity Cadet Squadron.”
For Eily Schneider, a Thrive teacher and CAP aerospace educator member, “ACE is showing these kids they can accomplish things, that they can enjoy learning, and that they can have pride in who they are. They will take that with them into adulthood and into the future of Mount Vernon.”
Jessica Volz, another Thrive teacher and CAP educator member, said that “few moments in life bring teachers more happiness than watching children get excited about science. The ACE program allows me to share my passion for STEM activities with our Thrive kids. Watching their eyes light up when Col. Schmuck walks through the doors is a real treat. I feel grateful to be a part of something so special.”