Lafayette students watch as the US Coast Guard helicopter lands in their school field | Photos: Andrew Goff


Eager children gathered outside at Lafayette Elementary School on Wednesday afternoon to witness an unusual event – a helicopter landing next to the school playground. The helicopter was flown in by the US Coast Guard Sector Humboldt Bay to give the kids a chance to see the aircraft up close. 

After the helicopter successfully landed, Quincy Brownfield, principal of Lafayette Elementary, addressed the students. “To begin, we would like to extend a HUGE thank you to these skilled pilots for such a spectacular landing,” Brownfield said to the crowd. “Not only is this helicopter landing a great way to celebrate our military connected students but it is also a perfect opportunity to celebrate Lafayette’s partnership with the US Coast Guard.”

The partnership Brownfield was referring to is a Partners in Education (PIE) program – an educational partnership that some schools have adopted as a way to promote community engagement and bring schools and other organizations closer together, while providing the students with additional learning opportunities. The agreement between the USCG Sector Humboldt Bay and Lafayette includes classroom presentations from Coast Guard members on things like water safety, a mentor program, and guided field trips to Coast Guard facilities. The USCG also participates in school events and assemblies (like the one on Wednesday) and provides the school with emergency supplies, Brownfield told the Outpost.

Some of Sector Humboldt Bay’s personnel stay in housing right across the street from Lafayette Elementary, which is part of what prompted the partnership, Brownfield said. Several of student’s parents also serve with the Coast Guard, so it is also a way to get some of the parents more involved with the school. After a couple of false starts prior to COVID, Brownfield said, the program was officially launched last August and will continue until one of the parties decides to end the agreement.

April is the Month of the Military Child and Wednesday’s event was also held to celebrate the children whose parents serve, not only in the Coast Guard, but other military branches. At Wednesday’s event many of the children, teachers and administrators wore purple shirts in support of the military kids and the military students of Lafayette were honored during an assembly on Wednesday morning, Brownfield said.

“Because it’s not just the people in uniform who serve, it’s the entire family,” Brownfield told the Outpost.

After the helicopter was safely landed in the school’s field, several students presented the coasties with a gift — a piece of collaborative artwork created by Lafayette’s fifth grade class. After that, the students took turns touring the helicopter (with strict instructions not to flip any switches) and asking the coasties questions.

Ryan O’Neill, an aircraft commander for Sector Humboldt Bay, thanked the students for showing their appreciation to the Coast Guard. “We’re very happy to be here today and we really appreciate this awesome artwork,” O’Neill said to the students. “It’s gonna go up at the base and it’ll be there probably forever.”

Scroll down for more photos from Wednesday’s event.

The coasties admire the students’ artwork

Ryan O’Neill of USCG Sector Humboldt Bay talks to the kids