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School's Out for Summer

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Well, friends, the time of year is finally upon us-- can you hear the millions of teachers, parents, and students from sea to shining sea shouting with joy? I sure can! And I must say, as a year-round, cubicle-bound Employee, I’m more than a wee bit jealous…but I digress.

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of visiting Mrs. Anderson’s 4th grade class at Patton Elementary School in Austin, TX. Talk about ready for summer! These kiddos were clamoring to tell me about their fun plans (insert more jealousy here). From trips to Disney to cross-country treks to visit family, they were ready to hit the road (and take to the skies). Dylan, pictured here, went above and beyond, incorporating one of our beautiful aircraft into the illustration accompanying his writing assignment.

Gold star, buddy!

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Since I was in the presence of such an enthusiastic crowd, I thought, "What better way to kick off the summer travel season than with a bit of Southwest Airlines trivia?" Having served the Austin market for almost 34 years, I was curious to know if this generation was as Southwest-obsessed as I was as a child (more on that later).

They did not disappoint!  When asked which animal was featured on one of our specialty planes, not only did I get a resounding “Shamu!”, but the first student to raise her hand responded very matter-of-factly with “an orca.”  Wow, really?!?!  So impressed!

Peanuts, playing cards, and inflatable airplane hats were enjoyed by all.  And yes, in case you picked up on the resemblance, Mrs. Anderson (pictured with me and the class at the top) is most definitely my Mom!

Boy did this fun afternoon bring back memories of summer vacations gone by (and a bit of déjà vu, as I am a proud Patton Pioneer myself --- the place hasn’t changed much since the 80’s). My family’s annual summer vacation centered around another one of Southwest’s long-time Texas destinations: Corpus Christi. This long-standing summer ritual dates back to my Dad’s childhood, as his parents took him and his brother to the same spot each year. The Sandy Shores Motel was, and still is, legendary!

Every year my brother and I had Southwest Airlines envy, as our cousins from Dallas always taxied in on a gleaming desert gold jet (while we typically hit the road “family-truckster style” from Austin in our rockin’ minivan). But once we all arrived by plane, train, and automobile, the fun began! Spending all day in the Gulf of Mexico collecting shells, making sand castles, feeding hungry seagulls, and fending off jellyfish was my idea of the best vacation ever!

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So whenever I get a little blue about having to stare at the four grey walls of my cubicle, I remember this ear-to-ear smile. I then immediately make plans to hop on a canyon blue jet that weekend to recreate this summer splendor in one of our 72 destinations (and counting). School’s out for summer indeed, and flight benefits rock almost as much as a twelve-week break from the books…so look out beach, here I come!

1 Comment
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Very fun read--love the pics. 4th-Graders are such a special group of children and I hope they get to have as much fun taking to the skies in their future as I have had in my past. Didn't fly SW for a long time--but I'm back. Lots of great memories of flying out (and family-style stationwagon-hauling) on past summer vacations, too. Thanks for sharing the joy.