By Tara Cavanaugh
At Saturday’s University of Michigan vs. the U.S. Air Force football game, a bald eagle named Challenger will fly across the stadium before the Pledge of Allegiance. But before he does that, he made a surprise visit to Haisley Elementary today.
Challenger visited Paula Everett’s second grade class and Erin Wright’s third grade class, accompanied by his handlers from the American Eagle Foundation.
Students were wowed as the eagle showed off its wingspan and loud call. Danielle Steckley from the foundation talked with students about the eagle’s evolution –– it’s a descendant of dinosaurs –– as well as its lifespan and eating habits.
“The looks on their faces were priceless,” said Everett about her second graders. “I think they were really excited. I didn’t give them any heads up.”
“So many of the kids have never even seen an eagle at a zoo, so to have it in their classroom is amazing,” said Haisley Principal Kathleen Scarnecchia. “We’re very fortunate.”
Challenger travels the country with his handlers at the foundation, whose goal is to promote protection of the bald eagle through educational programs.
Al Louis Cecere, president and CEO of the Tennessee-based American Eagle Foundation, said he and the foundation members try to bring Challenger into schools wherever they travel.
Cesere also donated a book, “Challenger, America’s Favorite Eagle” to Haisley’s library.
Learn more about the American Eagle Foundation at its website.