3 Rs




Friday, September 9, 2011

At a Loss for Words

I spent the morning and part of the afternoon on the first day of school at Capt. Michael  VandenBos School in Whitby, ON as a tribute to a fine, young Snowbird pilot. Capt. Michael J. VandenBos died in a training accident is Saskatchewan on December 8, 2010. The school that bears his name opened in September, 2001.
I entered the school at about 10:30 am, showed my press card to the secretary and asked her for a press kit. She referred me to the Principal, Ms. Karin Schmidlechner who said the only detailed info she had regarding a press kit was the article I wrote (Elements, June, 2010). I smiled.

Principal Schmidlechner directed me to the Staff Room and told me to look for Marc Velasco, Communications officer dressed in red. When Marc came in I introduced myself and I was amazed that he recognized my name. With Marc was Jacquie Perrin of the CBC. What a multi-talented woman she is. She shared her pilot’s log book with Mark and me and the two Snowbird Safety Officers, Capt. Dan Rossi and Capt. Robert Gagnon. Jacquie explained the different planes she has flown and also explained her flights on the Concord. Exciting stuff.

The three snowbirds left to go about their various duties and visits in the school when this woman approached me and asked who I was. I had planned to wear my Scientists in School I.D. and put my Press Card in the other side, but I had a senior moment when I left the house Tuesday morning and left it in my briefcase. The woman had a bit of a smile on her face, so I quipped: “I’m just here to fix the pipes.” She said: “You are not wearing any I.D.” I told her who I was and praised her for questioning me. One does not go about a school without first checking into the office and secondly without wearing I.D. I told her I was a retired educator and appreciated her query. She introduced herself as Vice-Principal Jane Krattiger. We both laughed.

The announcement came and the children were asked to go outside by division: Intermediate, Junior, Primary and take their positions on the pavement to form the letters CMV. “What a great idea”, I thought.

There was a assemblage of dignitaries, namely: Jasper VandenBos (Michael’s father), Chairman of the Durham District School Board, Superintendent of School Board, Director of School Board, Mayor of Whitby, and the Snowbird CBC representative.

Captain Velasco pointed over the houses stating that any second now the Snowbirds would be coming from that direction. Sure enough, nine planes in a V-formation flew over at an altitude of only 500 feet with me waving my arms and simultaneously becoming choked-up at the moment’s event. They made two more passes over the school much to the delight of excited children jumping up and down with their little Canadian flags waving. I felt such pride in being a Canadian. When I left to return to my car, I was at a loss for words when I observed the line of cars parked on both sides of the streets and the hundreds of people on the adjoining streets who came out to see the Snowbirds. What a tribute to Captain Michael VandenBos—the school and the man.

See http://2vandenbos.org/MVan.shtml  for my article on Capt. Michael J. VandenBos.

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