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East High School senior attends Space Camp

Published: Thu, August 11, 2011 @ 12:00 a.m.


Steven Russ, 17, a senior at East High School, shows off the wings he got from attending Space Camp in Huntsville, Ala. He’s surrounded by East faculty members, from left, Sally Tod Dutton, guidance counselor; Jennifer Walker, English teacher, and Principal Holly Seimetz, whom he calls his angels. The women made Steven’s week at the camp a reality.


Steven Russ, 17, a senior at East High School, Youngstown, talks about the week he spent at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center’s Space Camp in Huntsville, Ala.

By Denise Dick



Once East High School senior Steven Russ starts talking about the week he spent at Space Camp, it’s hard to get him to stop.

Steven, 17, talks about the students he met from all over the world, the space simulations he experienced and the history of the U.S. space program the way many kids his age gush about the latest reality TV show.

He spent last week at U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala., a program founded in 1982 to promote the study of math, technology and math. Students spend time in the classroom and in hands-on activities.

“My mother always told me that she wanted me to go to Space Camp, but then, she left me,” said Steven, whose mother died last December.

He wasn’t sure he’d ever get the chance.

East English teacher Jennifer Walker tapped Steven for a scholarship to Space Camp as part of her award as Ohio’s Teacher of the Year for 2009.

“My first memory of Steven was when he in the ninth grade and he used to make the most elaborate paper airplanes,” Walker said.

When Walker was able to pick a student to go to Space Camp, she and Sally Tod Dutton, the school guidance counselor, immediately thought of Steven.

That took care of the $1,700 tuition, but Steven, who lives with his brother, still had obstacles to overcome.

“There was a mountain I had to get over to get there,” Steven said of his trip.

Dutton paid for Steven’s plane ticket and she, Walker and Principal Holly Seimetz helped him complete the paperwork for the camp. Dutton drove him to the airport and Seimetz picked him up.

“These are my angels,” Steven said of the women. “I have to think of some way to thank them.”

Dutton says seeing Steven’s excitement about the camp is thanks enough.

Students experience a liftoff at 4 Gs, act out the roles on a space mission and take a turn in the jet fighter pilot simulator.

The jet fighter pilot simulation was Steven’s favorite part of the camp.

Steven has always had an interest in airplanes and still makes those paper versions that his teacher remembers. The Space Camp trip, though, marked his first flight.

It didn’t disappoint.

He plans to study airplane mechanics after graduation and then save money to attend Ohio State University.

“It gave a new perspective on school for me,” Steven said.


1JonathanBentley(5 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

Great story Vindy. I'm glad the best and brightest are receiving some media coverage. Steven is a great young man with a very bright future.

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2DwightK(1530 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

Awsome opportunity. Glad to see he enjoyed it so much.

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3jc3indc(1 comment)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

Great Story. Those three have a long resume of helping and encouraging students to dream big. I wouldn't be where I am today without them. Wish it was easier to let them know! Glad the young man enjoyed his experience and uses it to get to bigger and better things.

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4RoddAC(102 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

Congratulations to Steven and many, many kudos to Sally, Jennifer and Holly...also to the fact that this is the first time, to my knowledge, there were no negative comments following an article! That's a wonderful start! Keep up the positive work!

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5grand4dad(216 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

Way to go Steven! Wishing you much luck and success.

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6taxpayer1001(274 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

jc3 -- I'm sure these wonderful teachers get enough thanks just by seeing prior students like you succeed. They sound very dedicated. Just remember, pass it forward. If you ever have a chance to influence a young person in a positive way, that would be a perfect way to thank them. :o)

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7JustWatching(1 comment)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

Steven, carry that experience with you always. You can accomplish great things. And Vindy, thank you for reminding all of us that there are very caring and dedicated teachers in our midst.

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8walter_sobchak(2624 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

Good article, but I'm confused. If Chaney is the new STEM school in Y-town, why is Steven a senior at East High?

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9wearepack(26 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

Very cool opportunity. Good job getting Youngstown involved in such a project.

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10iBuck(231 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

My heart goes out to Steven as a future STEM worker, and I hope he has a back-up plan.

Unless we get some significant visa reform to stop the flood of cheap foreign labor and raise the standards, he'll very likely be chronically unemployed or under-employed by 18-20 years from now.

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11hellokitty(161 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

Congrats to Steven and his Angels! And Steven, your momma is beaming with pride for you; she knows you got to Space Camp :)

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12VindyPost(436 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago


This is an inspiring story on your Space Camp experience. Dreams become Reality! Well-deserved.
A special thanks to "your three angels" for making this happen.

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13walter_sobchak(2624 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago


If this young man wants to pursue a career in science and engineering, he needs to take advantage of the opportunity a STEM school will give him. From my understanding, the staff will be assigned for the STEM school by the superintendent. This means the advanced math, physics, chemistry needed for college prep will be taught at Chaney. I don't believe the staff at East will be the same this year as last year. This is a problem with students that don't come out of high school with the proper prerequisites to study in the sciences. They need remedial work which wastes time and resources. It is also why we need Eastgate CC. You need to make a plan early and try to follow it, tweaking it along the way, if you want to succeed. It seems like this young man has the desire and drive; I just hope he is receiving the proper guidance by the administration of YCS. THAT IS MY ISSUE!

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14JonathanBentley(5 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago


East will also contInue to offer the advanced science and math courses as part of their curriculum, taught by highly qualified instructors. The main difference will be that Chaney plans to offer an extended day focusing on STEM and VPA. This is the final year students that are rising seniors will have the option of staying at their home school. After this, they won't have a choice.

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15walter_sobchak(2624 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

Thanks for the clarification. Good to know this young man is not falling through the cracks.

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