Lesson Learned (July15)

“The chessboard is the world; the pieces are the phenomena of the universe; the rules of the game are what we call the Laws of Nature. The player on the other side is hidden from us. We know that his play is always fair, just and patient.” —Thomas Huxley

Upshur County Schools are beginning a new academic year July 1, 2021. Our students from pre-kindergarten to Buckhannon-Upshur High School seniors are poised for a game of fair play when classes begin in August. If our students apply themselves to their studies with due diligence, some may be riding on spaceships headed soon for the Moon and later for Mars. Our Upshurites gain a high privilege to be living at such a time as this. Upon my word, some Lad and Lassie playing on one of our seven elementary school playgrounds may be looking back as astronauts sailing around our whirling globe, catching glimpses of the swirls of blue and green, teaming with 8 billion people. The new age of discovery is here. We will mark July 20, 2021, in our history books, for Blue Origin will launch its first astronaut flight that day, ushering in the era of private commercial space travel.

Biologist Thomas Huxley correctly diagnosed the phenomena and prize of our time. We grandparents can cheer on our grandchildren who may be the astronauts on SpaceX or Blue Origin or other leading rockets contending for the thrill of a lifetime, fulfilling an old, old dream as old as the first humans setting sail on the oceans which makes up three-fourths of Earth’s surface.

The future is now, as Blue Origin launches humans into space in mid-July 2021. The race is on for establishing Moon colonies in four years. The educational playbook is exactly like learning the game of chess, as Thomas Huxley notes. The basic moves are reading, writing, and arithmetic. The rules of life include equal opportunity for ALL STUDENTS obeying the Laws of Nature.

On one side is the Human Spirit. The Spirit of God—the Player on the other side—is hidden from us. However, I know by Faith that the Spirit’s play is always fair, just and patient.

In the span of my 73 years, I can recall the Russian Sputnik launch in October 1957, ushering in the “Space Age”! Math and science became vital subjects for us students at Academy Grade School in Buckhannon, West Virginia. My Buckhannon-Upshur High School days took a serious turn when President John F. Kennedy announced that the USA would land on the Moon before the end of the decade of the 1960s. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education propelled me toward Biology and Chemistry and ultimately Medical Education. 

United States of America’s Apollo 11 was the spaceflight that first landed humans on the Moon. Commander Neil Armstrong and lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin formed the American crew that landed the Apollo Lunar Module Eagle on July 20, 1969. 

Now we launch again on July 20, 2021, with high, high goals. I will anticipate a worthy quote such as American astronaut Neil Armstrong made when he put his left foot on the lunar surface and famously declared, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

My lesson learned this week is that education will be more important than ever when we return to classes in August. The Space Age continues with a new chapter. As an elected member of the Upshur County Schools Board of Education, I will be cheering our students on. I “expect excellence” which is our motto. God only knows how far our students can go!


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