Chaffee 5th graders head to space camp - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Chaffee 5th graders head to space camp

Fifth graders from Chaffee Elementary were given an endowment. Fifth graders from Chaffee Elementary were given an endowment.

Teachers and staff at Chaffee Elementary in Huntsville could barely keep a straight face on Tuesday.

They were preparing to surprise Chaffee's 5th graders with a free trip to space camp at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center.

Space and Rocket Center CEO Dr. Deborah Barnhart joined the Huntsville Elks Lodge for the big reveal.

"They'll get out of school for a week and it's more than they'll learn in a lifetime," Barnhart said.

One by one, each student assembled in the school library not knowing what was to come. They knew a surprise was imminent, but could not figure out what.

One student guessed whether it was related to their box top collection contest. Others wondered if the surprise had anything to do with news crews that were there to capture the moment.

Jay Lockridge of the Huntsville Elks Lodge gave the first clue by saying the students will have to miss school. After gasps of anticipation, every child cheered when they heard Lockridge finally say they're all going to space camp.

And they're going for free.

A late benefactor from the Huntsville Elks Lodge donated nearly $30,000 to send each 5th grader on the trip.

"He left this endowment with instructions for us to identify and send children to space camp who would not otherwise have the opportunity to go," Lockridge said.

This is the second year the Lodge has provided the endowment. Last year, they sent children from Chapman Elementary to space camp.

"I'm very excited because I've never been to space camp before," said student Cody Porter.

Barnhart said the children will attend the program in February.

"It's absolutely fantastic. We all need to do in what we can do in our own communities to make a difference in these lives and the Elks have been making a major step forward in changing these lives," Barnhart said.

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