SANDPOINT — When local charter school students need a role model in their lives, all they need to do is look at their place of learning’s name.
The school officially adopted the new name of Forrest M. Bird Charter School at a special ceremony Thursday afternoon. To the delight of school administrators, the whole Bird family was in attendance, including the man of the hour, Dr. Forrest Bird himself.
Bird’s wife, Dr. Pamela Bird, was very appreciative in accepting the honor for Forrest Bird. Even though Bird has received personal commendations from presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, she said this recognition was particularly special.
“Forrest is more honored when he’s around students because he sees them differently from other people,” she said.
She also emphasized that one person could change the entire world with the proper drive and determination. In Bird’s case, his career of innovation was fueled by a love for learning, invention, his country and his faith in God.
“On the one hand, Forrest is deeply honored and humbled by this gesture,” she said. “On the other, it’s our hope that this will give this school the wings to fly into the future.”
Bird’s attendance was an exciting last-minute development for charter school officials. The family had just arrived in Sandpoint from Flagstaff, Ariz., where Bird had undergone major spinal surgery. When it was apparent his recovery had progressed enough to permit his attendance, the family informed schools officials they would be present for the ceremony.
With Bird in the audience, charter school students pitched in to ensure the ceremony was one to remember. Makai Miller read the poem “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost, while Eleanore Mearns recited “It Couldn’t Be Done” by Edgar Albert Guest. Calvin Aerni performed his song “Another Day,” a combination of live guitar playing and singing accompanied by a composition derived from the sound chip of an old school Gameboy. Finally, Charlene Rawuka gave a classical performance of “O Mio Babbino Caro” supported by a string section from Sandpoint Music Conservatory.
According to principal Alan Millar, school officials chose Bird for the namesake to serve as a figure of inspiration for the students. Throughout his long life, Bird broke ground as both an aviator and an inventor. His most acclaimed invention, the universal medical respirator, is a piece of standard-issue hospital equipment and has saved countless lives through its use in surgeries and emergency response.
“Our dream is that Dr. Forrest Bird will go into the future with these students,” Millar said.
The ceremony was a great chance to show off the school’s new look in the wake of the name change. The biggest was the updated logo featuring a bird in flight that now emblazons school signs and shirts. Visitors also had a chance to get a science lesson from the Discovery Center crew, an organization that specializes in bringing science to life in practical and fascinating ways.