The weather didn’t exactly cooperate, but C.A. Weis Elementary School Principal Holly Magee was in the air with the Blue Angels long enough on Wednesday to enjoy the experience of a lifetime.
Magee took a backseat ride with the Blues as part of their Key Influencer Program, flying right over the school as the entire student body sat on blankets on the blacktop and watched her soar over their heads.
“It was absolutely amazing and it was even more amazing that my kiddos got to experience it,” Magee said.
Heavy fog in Pensacola delayed the scheduled ride by about 45 minutes. Though Magee was in the air on the Blue Angels No. 7 jet for nearly 40 minutes, they were only able to pass over Weis one time, around 10:45 a.m., because the fog never fully subsided.
“At one point they didn’t even know if the kids were going to be able to see us because of the clouds,” Magee said. “But it cleared up enough so we could at least make one pass over.”
Magee said she was nominated to fly as part of the Key Influencer Program during the summer. Key Influencer nominators are not typically revealed, Magee said, but while she was speaking at a recent Achieve Escambia board meeting, Pensacola Naval Air Station commander Capt. Christopher Martin stood up and revealed himself as the one who picked Magee for the work she’s put in to transform Weis into a community school over the past two years.
“He stood up and said, ‘We don’t usually say who nominates people, but I was so moved by our bus tour last spring that I nominated Mrs. Magee,'” Magee recalled.
As part of an Achieve Escambia bus tour, Martin, a member of Achieve Escambia’s Leadership Council, learned more about what was going on in different neighborhoods and schools in the county.
It was on that tour that Martin found out how Magee and the school was utilizing community-school funds to allow for in-school health care, a safer place for kids to play and a behavioral health counselor, to name a few of the school upgrades.
“The Key Influencer rides are about people in the community who are doing things like she’s doing,” Martin said.
Magee said she was thrilled to get a chance to ride with the Blues, even if she did expect to lose her lunch along the way.
“I was totally prepared to get sick; they even had bags ready in case we did,” Magee said. “I did not get sick, but I thought I was going to pass out. I got close to it, but I didn’t.”
Once she returned to the elementary school from Pensacola NAS on Wednesday, she said the excitement that overcame her students made the day even brighter.
“They were just going insane with questions about it all,” Magee said. “The experience gave the kids something they could be proud of, it was really exciting.”