Dropping by Jefferson

Guardsman lands Black Hawk at daughter's elementary school

It's not every day your dad lands a helicopter at your school.

But Gabrielle Baker had that honor when her dad, Maj. Jeffery Baker from the New York National Guard, and fellow crew members landed a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter on Thursday, June 16, at Jefferson Elementary School's field. Tours were given to elementary students from all three Schalmont elementary schools throughout the day with Baker explaining the ins and outs of the helicopter, which has been to Iraq. After the briefing and getting a chance to ask questions, children excitedly stormed onto the helicopter and strapped in.

Baker's daughter was in fourth grade at Jefferson and got a chance to tour the Black Hawk, but Baker's son, Noah, who just finished his first year in middle school at Schalmont, still made it down before the helicopter took off at 2 p.m.

It is pretty cool. Not everyone gets to see their dad fly a helicopter, said Noah Baker.

Visiting the school with the helicopter stemmed from the support the school community showed Baker's unit when they were deployed. Both of Baker's children were still in elementary school when he first had the idea to arrange the helicopter visit at the school.

"When I was gone last time both kids were in elementary school and the teachers sent me care packages and it just really meant a lot to us over there," said Baker. "We have been trying to set this up for a year now."

The event also acted as a nice transition for the two elementary schools closing next year in the district, because students and teachers from the three schools were paired up together.

"He [Baker] had brought it up a couple of times and this year with the transition with Woestina and Mariaville (Jefferson Principal Joby Gifford) took him up on the offer," said Assistant Principal of Jefferson Jason Thompson. "There is a learning opportunity but the bigger component as well was a transitional event that would allow for all three schools of students to have a chance to be together and have a time to start experiencing what next year will be like."

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