AUBURN — Casey Park Elementary School student Madyson Miles said she had never been in the air by airplane or even on a roller coaster, but she was excited to see a hot air balloon in action Wednesday morning.
Madyson, 9, was one of over 500 students out on the school grounds for a balloon demonstration sponsored by real estate company RE/MAX. Madyson said she wanted to get in the balloon.
"I want to see how it's like to fly," she said as she jumped slightly off the ground with her arms raised.
As children shuffled out of the school for the event, many noted the nearby deflated balloon with dropped jaws and pointed fingers.
School principal Kelly Garback said Christine Morse, who has a child in the school and is a marketing assistant and graphic designer with RE/MAX, asked her earlier this year if she would be interested in having the balloon event held at the school. Garback said she believed it would allow students to have a different kind of experience and tie into the school's science curriculum. Balloon pilot Lee Teitsworth also hosted presentations on the history and science of flight in the school auditorium later that day.
"Would you all like to see a balloon today?" Teitsworth asked the students at the demonstration.
The answer from the student body was a resounding yes. The children exploded into excited chatter as Teitsworth and volunteers, including his daughter Molly, 8, and Casey Park physical education teacher Dominick Barbuto, inflated the balloon. The balloon eventually towered to seven stories tall. Teitsworth and the balloon eventually lifted off the ground while it was still connected to ropes, with Garback and Sarah Green, who is interning as an assistant principal at the school, in tow.
A child could be heard saying "Bye!" while the device was airborne as many students waved. "Guys, smile," Green said from above a moment before she took a picture of some of her colleagues.
Student Dante Handville 10, said he enjoyed the event and was glad the balloon blocked out his view of the sun at one point.
Teitsworth, who has been holding educational events with balloons for a decade, said that he believes the events provide inspiration.
"It broadens their horizons. You can almost see the realization dawn in their eyes as they see that there's more to the world than they even realized," he said.
After Green touched back down to Earth, she said she initially thought being in the balloon basket would be "wobbly and unsturdy, but it really felt like you were standing on the ground." She said she was glad Teitsworth would be talking to students about career options, since he is a licensed pilot, and the science of the balloon.
"It kind of brings a lot of what they're learning into a real world situation," Green said.