Students at Crossroads School of Longmont reach new heights with a hot air balloon – Longmont Times-Call

The weather was cool and clear early Wednesday morning at Crossroads School in Longmont – perfect conditions for a hot air balloon ride. Luckily for the Crossroads students, they had the opportunity to do so thanks to a visit to Colorado hot air balloon company Namaste Balloons, which has a launch site in Longmont.

The morning began with students watching a commercial hot air balloon fill with 105,000 cubic feet of air and soar over 1,000 feet into the sky. Next, it was the students’ turn to set up and take down a balloon with the help of the Namaste Balloons team, in a field just east of the school on 15th Avenue.

The balloon they brought has a name: Santita, or “little saint”.

“It’s a smaller balloon designed to go up and down faster,” said pilot John Gruenberg.

Gruenberg’s long history with hot air balloons came full circle on Wednesday. He remembers when a local balloonist visited his school and gave the students an up-close experience with a hot air balloon. Gruenberg took to it immediately and got his first balloon license at age 14.

“I was one of those kids in the crowd who was like, ‘Oh, I want to do this! “”, Did he declare.

Crossroads School started in 2010 to serve young people who struggle with traditional education. The school currently has 25 students with room for more, said executive director Barb Bulthuis.

“There are a lot of kids who don’t fit into the mainstream system,” Bulthuis said. “We have interesting, creative, intelligent children who just need to be taught in a way that suits them.”

Crossroads student Emily Flerchinger takes video from inside the balloon on Wednesday. (Cliff Grassmick/staff photographer)

Emily Flerchinger, a junior, was one of the students who helped prepare the balloon for inflation by spreading it out on the grass and finding the temperature gauge.

“Honestly, I really like physics,” Flerchinger said. “Probably the coolest part of the experience was seeing the inside of the ball.”

Once Santita was up and running, the students were asked to do a quick flight into the basket, ascending about 15 feet with the balloon tethered to the ground.

“I was scared and excited at the same time,” seventh-grade student Kohen Thibodeau said after getting off his flight.

Before Wednesday, the students had some lessons on the physics of hot air balloons in their science classes. After the hands-on experience, students participated in a lab activity to better grasp the concepts.

“Children learn in different ways,” said Konni Keuter, assistant principal and history teacher at Crossroads. “We could teach them physics from a book and talk about hot air balloons, and maybe even show them a video. But it makes it all very real to them.

Keuter has also been part of the Namaste Balloons crew for about a year. She had wanted to bring a hot air balloon to school since September last year, but said the weather had never cooperated. Fortunately, everything was optimal on Wednesday, the day set by the crew weeks in advance.

“These hands-on activities make them realize that physics is part of our world,” Keuter said.

LONGMONT-CO-October 5: Carrefour students, Kevin Titus, on the left, ...
Crossroads students Kevin Titus, left, and Kohen Thibodeau prepare the balloon for flight. (Cliff Grassmick/staff photographer)