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Fairland teacher chosen for space center program

PROCTORVILLE — Fairland Middle School teacher Chad Belville will finally get the chance to do something he has dreamed about for many years — take part in astronaut training.

Belville, 33, has been awarded a scholarship to attend the Honeywell Educators Space Academy Program at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala., June 22-29.

He is one of 265 science and math teachers from 21 countries and 43 states to be selected to participate. According to organizers, more than 1,000 educators applied for the prestigious summer program.

To be selected for the program, teachers are required to submit a 500-word essay describing the tools and techniques they use to motivate students to study science-related fields and pursue technology-related careers.

Belville said, “This is really a once in a lifetime opportunity. … It’s like I’m fulfilling a fantasy.”

During the program, Belville will participate in a variety of activities including 50 hours of classroom, laboratory and field training. The teachers also have an opportunity to participate in astronaut training exercises like a high-performance jet simulation, scenario-based space missions, land and water survival training and state-of-the-art flight dynamics programs.

Belville said he will also have a chance to meet with astronauts and author Homer Hickam.

“It’s just such an honor to be selected,” he said. “I’m so excited to see how things work on the inside (of the U.S. Space and Rocket Center) and what happens behind the scenes.”

Belville said he had dreams of becoming an astronaut as a teenager. In fact, he had plans to go to West Point to study aviation on the path to fulfilling his dream. Unfortunately, he suffered a knee injury in a football game the night before his physical for the academy and failed.

He ended up attending Marshall University instead.