A New Kind of Tourist, A New Kind of World…and a New Kind of Student

When I was less than two years old, my family moved from San Diego to Orlando. It was late 1960. John F. Kennedy had just been elected president of the United States, the Cold War was about to bring us to the brink of nuclear destruction, and Walt Disney had not yet begun to buy those enormous swaths of land in central Florida that would one day become Disney World.

The reason we were moving from paradise to humidity was that my father was changing from his job working as a design engineer on the Atlas rocket at the Space Systems Division of General Dynamics to a related “rocket scientist” job at Martin Aerospace (later named Martin-Marietta), an assignment which was also highly classified.

While the movers loaded up and transported our belongings from our modest California home to Florida, my parents decided not to travel by car. For the first time, our family flew from coast to coast (at company expense, I’m sure!). In 1960, jet airliners like the Boeing 707 and the DC-8 were just coming into service, so much passenger air travel was still by propeller aircraft. And so it was with our first aeronautical journey; we flew on a Super Constellation (pictured above).

That’s how tourists in America who could afford it traveled over large distances in the 1950s and early 1960s. The interstate highway system initiated by President Dwight Eisenhower was just getting underway, so trips of many miles were often taken by train, bus, or propeller plane, in addition to automobile. Disneyland was new and Disney World was yet to come, so natural settings, the relatively few National Parks at the time, camping, and Washington, D.C. were common destinations for vacationers.

Now fast forward to 2017 and this past week.

Entrepreneur and technology innovator, Elon Musk, creator of SpaceX, Tesla Motors, and other endeavors, announced that next year—next year, as in 2018—SpaceX would send two people to the moon. Not astronauts, mind you, but what we might think of as folks deciding to take a week’s vacation. It will just happen to be in space.

(And I thought it was cool [and still do] that SpaceX is the company sending our Quest for Space and ALCS SpaceEagles middle school STEM experiments into space next month!)

According to an online article in USA Today:

SpaceX founder Elon Musk said he’s planning a private space mission, using a SpaceX rocket to transport two paying passengers around the moon. Musk said SpaceX was approached by “two private individuals” who know one another, but whom he did not identify. They would be launched from the historic Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center late next year in SpaceX’s Dragon 2 vehicle on a Falcon Heavy rocket (pictured right4). That’s the same launch pad used by NASA for Apollo missions to the moon, as well as many space shuttle missions, including the last one. SpaceX flew its Falcon 9 from the KSC pad for the first time last week. “They are entering this with their eyes open, knowing there is some risk,” Musk said.

I love that little phrase, “some risk.” (Of course, if I had the money, I would go in a heartbeat!)

From a Super Constellation turboprop airliner to a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket with a Dragon 2 space capsule; family vacations are sure changing!

And so is our world. Rapidly. Unabatedly. In countless directions. And the rate of change is accelerating daily, moment by moment, literally exponentially.

Once again, this kind of change requires wisdom when it comes to how we all live and the education of our children. It can no longer be business as usual for the academic community. Some schools have tried to keep things the way they’ve always been…and recent research suggests most of those schools have closed their doors and no longer exist.5

That’s why at ALCS, we see the educational landscape—whether public or private, including Christian—with open eyes. That’s why we strive to be at the leading edge of educational technology (shout outs to our entire faculty and staff, including Mrs. Laura Deck and Mr. Justin Royse on this); why we founded The Eagle Center for Creativity and Innovation (TECCI); why we initiated our STEM program (more kudos to Mrs. Michelle Martinez, Mrs. Jasmine Royse, Mrs. Deck, Dr. Jim DellaNeve, Mr. Charles Wassif, Mrs. Renee’ Winn); why Mrs. Deck launched our own ingenious Tech Fair (you are going to be AMAZED at what our kids are doing!); why our faculty and leadership are reevaluating our entire curricular program to make it the finest it can be for our kids, and why—in actuality—we are doing everything we’re doing. We believe that preparing our students with the 21st century skills they need pleases God.

And we also believe that the only way to truly maximize all of that is to spark and grow and develop a dynamic, vibrant, joyful 1st century faith in Christ in the hearts and minds and souls of our students. With a bedrock of faith undergirding their ability to think clearly and logically and with rising discernment, our kids can become the Christ-anchored, influential, and authentic leaders our nation and this world desperately need, to the glory of God.

This is a new kind of student.

I submit to you that this is now an ALCS student.

So carefully review those vacation plans for next year… and we’ll see you around campus!

Dr. Vance Nichols
Head of School
Alta Loma Christian School

Dr. Nichols (BS, MS, EdD) also serves as Commissioner and Chair of the ACSI Southern California Regional Accreditation Commission, and was an educational researcher, organizational leadership theorist, and 2015 Innovation Scholar at the University of Southern California. His most recent published research may be accessed online at: http://digitallibrary.usc.edu/cdm/ref/collection/p15799coll40/id/294584/rec/82