Since 1986, the Deer Valley Education Foundation (DVEF) has awarded more than $1.58 Million dollars to Deer Valley students and staff through programs and grants. One of those programs sends a student to Space Camp! Since 2005, DVEF has fulfilled 42 student’s dreams of learning what it’s like to be an astronaut.

In 2019, DVEF and Space Academy Sponsor Grads Photography awarded two students with scholarships to the Space Academy in Huntsville, Alabama. The scholarships this year were awarded to Sonoran Foothills School’s Alivia Bringhurst and Shane Feichtinger, a former Terramar Academy of the Arts student and now a freshman at Mountain Ridge High School.

The Space Academy is an increased intensity program of astronaut and mission training and academics. The students use real life STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math — lessons in ways that could lead to a successful career in science and engineering. Students experience team-building skills, space simulators, and space shuttle mission trainings.

“I enjoyed everything about Space Camp, but my most favorite part was the simulated missions. At camp, we did two missions; a lunar mission and a L.E.O (Low Earth Orbit) mission. For the LEO mission, I was Mission Commander. My job requirements were to takeoff, fly, dock with the ISS, and land the Discovery Space Shuttle. Along the way we encountered anomalies, which we had to work to solve as a team,” said Alivia.

Trainees who want to be astronauts must learn to think like astronauts. They even eat like astronauts. Participants have three fields of specialized study to choose from: aviation, space, and robotics.

“I had an absolute blast at Space Academy! Over the course of the week, I went from constructing an ablative heat shield like the one that was used in the Saturn V Capsule to building a functional rocket. I also participated in missions in which I conducted experiments as a Lunar Mission Specialist and took charge as a Flight Director. I participated in countless activities that couldn’t be done anywhere else!” Shane said.

Besides the missions, both students made lasting friendships. Bringhurst enjoyed meeting people who shared her passions.

Shane added, “The chance to get to know individuals from other places was something I came to value greatly. Not only was I able to interact with people from other states such as Maryland and Illinois, but other countries as well, including China, Taiwan and Great Britain. I’m so glad to still be in touch with many of them!”

For both students, the memories of their time at the Space Academy will last a lifetime.

“I learned so much at Space Camp. Some of the most interesting topics I learned about were future space exploration and what my generation’s role will be in space. NASA is looking for geologists and botanists for this generation of astronauts, sign me up!” said Alivia.

“I will be forever grateful to DVEF for the entire experience,” said Shane.