Jessica Lane, Staff Writer, firstname.lastname@example.org
"This man has been within a half mile of a tornado in a helicopter … and survived!" Jay Edelen, principal of Pioneer School announced to a gym full of students.
"Oklahoma's Own" Jim Gardner, pilot for SkyNews9 approached and took the microphone as the Star Wars theme song played in the background.
Gardener was the special guest at a weekly ritual that Pioneer School calls "Rise n' Shine." During the assembly, the school creed is read and announcements are made for the week.
The word of the day was "perseverance," which was appropriate for Gardner's visit.
Gardner told the students to persevere in their pursuit of their dreams.
Flying a helicopter didn't come naturally to Gardner, he told the students. He said it took about three times longer than average for him to get it, but he kept trying.
"Don't let anyone tell you that you can't do something," Gardner said.
He advised the students to learn everything they could about computers, and said that even his helicopter's engine starts via computers.
Gardner commended the school and faculty for the Rise n' Shine assembly, which features upbeat music, beloved class mantras and recognition of students who have done well during the week.
"Support your teachers, support your faculty because I never had this much fun in school."
In addition to chasing tornadoes, Gardner has also known a few celebrities.
"How many of you remember OJ Simpson? I got to chase him around L.A. in a helicopter one day."