NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — The 926th Group hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony for its STARBASE NELLIS academy here Sept. 12.
Col. John Breeden, 926th GP commander, spoke at the event alongside Col. Carol Yannarella, 99th Air Base Wing vice commander, and Mr. Dwight Jones, Clark County School District superintendent.
“During this decade, employment in science and engineering occupations is expected to increase at almost four times the rate for all occupations,” Breeden said. “STARBASE serves to excite children about science, technology, engineering and mathematics in hopes they’ll pursue careers and higher education in these fields.”
Since classes began, STARBASE NELLIS has graduated more than 240 children from Team Nellis and the Las Vegas Valley. It is postured to instruct at least 1,300 annually.
The success of opening Nevada’s first academy of this kind was a true team effort between the 926th GP, 99th ABW, CCSD and the Center for Teaching Excellence.
“As an associate unit on this installation, we’re very fortunate to have such gracious hosts and strong relationships with the Regular Air Force here,” said Breeden. “And the Reserve and RegAF relationship demonstrated is strengthened still by our joint partnership with the community.”
Among those helping to cut the ribbon signifying the official opening was STARBASE founder, Ms. Barbara Koscak. Koscak developed the program in the early 1990s as way to raise the interest and improve the knowledge of at-risk youth in the STEM fields.
After the ceremony, guests had a chance to observe a class in session as well as try their hand at several activities exhibiting Newton’s Laws and Bernoulli’s principle.
“As a community, we need to take back and expect more of our young people, and ultimately expect more of ourselves,” Jones said. “Our kids are worth it.”
“We’ve asked for our community and our partners to step forward,” Jones said. “To Nellis, to this program, this is exactly the kind of partnership that we’re envisioning in the Clark County School District. Thank you for that partnership, we’re very grateful.”
STARBASE NELLIS provides 25 hours of instruction to fifth grade students, with classes of up to 35 students attending one day a week for five weeks. The STARBASE staff works with CCSD schools to enroll their classes and bus the students to the base.
The program culminates in a graduation ceremony where military volunteers demonstrate their jobs so the children can observe real-world STEM applications and explore career choices.