Eagle Flight Program Took Flight and Touched Lives

The Lead Eagles, pictured here with their C.A.R.E. Buddies, spent the afternoon of November 13 developing relationships.

Natalia Maverakis

The Lead Eagles, pictured here with their C.A.R.E. Buddies, spent the afternoon of November 13 developing relationships.

On Wednesday, Nov. 13, students of Sutter Middle School’s CARE Program and Vista del Lago interacted for the first time. With an icebreaker, question panel and food, the Eagle Flight Program (EFP), the first of its kind among Vista clubs, had officially taken off.

Created and sponsored by the Vista club, Eagles Directing and Guiding to Excellence (EDGE), EFP engages the students of the Community Action for Responsive Education (CARE) program in positive activities. The goal of these activities is to influence the development of positive role models and decision-making skills.

However, the influence originates not from the activities but from the bonds that mentors and students forge. The Vista students, or Lead Eagles, have become role models for these students. They depict a glimpse of a life and an opportunity that CARE students could strive for.

The Lead Eagles fuel the drive for these students to pursue high school and a higher education. “I hope at least 10 of these kids have a spark that gets ignited, that they can set goals and achieve them,” said Patrick J. McIntosh, CARE Program teacher.

During the line game, a game in which the students answer yes or no questions by stepping toward or away from a line, a spark was in fact ignited. When the topic of bullying was questioned, every single pair of feet touched the line in affirmation. They had all been victims of bullying. When they found a common link, the gap between them shrunk. They were peers and equals rather than the CARE students and the Vista students.

So despite social or economic background, they are all kids, all capable of the same opportunities. As the EFP continues, the CARE students, hopefully, will realize that there are more doors open to them they may have originally thought.

Overall, the first day ended with a new beginning–the beginning of new relationships, the beginning of a new program.

“I just hope we can inspire the students to look toward the future and all of its possibilities,”  said EDGE President of Middle School Activities Courtland McCoy.  “If we can change one student’s life by the end of this program, it will be worth all of the work put in. That is the goal of EDGE, and that is a dream shared by me, Ms. Street, Mr. McIntosh, and all of EDGE’s members.”

EDGE partnered with the CARE program in order to introduce healthy role models into the students lives and to open new doors to different possibilities available to them in the future.

Lead Eagles hope to teach their buddies about “time management, public speaking, and positive academic behavior.” Overall, their end goal is to be able to bring the CARE students on Vista’s campus for a day of shadowing and enjoying, to show them the wonders of high school.

McCoy developed the program with the help of EDGE adviser Ellen Street.  “I wanted to find a place in the community where I could provide and apply my knowledge and resources of child development and make a positive difference in the lives of youth. I learned about the EDGE Club and its mission and values from Courtland McCoy, and when I learned about it I just knew I had to be involved,” said Street, who is in the Masters Program of Child Development at CSUS.

Together, they developed EFP and all its rules and standards. Edge prohibits “friending” CARE students over social media, exchanging phone numbers and meeting during personal time because they are not sanctioned as an EDGE club activities. These rules guard the privacy of both the mentors and the students.

Street and McCoy also paired the CARE/Vista partnerships based on the answers from compatibility tests administered to both groups of students. What are your hobbies, what is your favorite subject in school, and what are your goals after high school were among the questions answered in the survey.

As EFP evolves, more mentors will be introduced into the program. McCoy noted that after hearing of EFP’s success, other Vista students signed up to join the program.

But, they are making changes to improve the success of each meeting. “The panel was a bit awkward as people got over their nerves, but after that, everything went really well. However, I think there was a lot of anticipation for mentors and CARE students to meet, so if I could do it over I would put the student panel at the end,” said McCoy.

Optimism remains high for the future of EFP as Lead Eagles continue to encourage CARE students toward a brighter future filled with more open doors.

For Vista students who wish to contribute to EFP or join EDGE, visit EDGE’s page on Vista’s website or contact McCoy. New members are welcomed.