Janesville Craig teacher parachutes with Golden Knights
Hundreds of sweaty teens sat in the mid-morning sun around the edge of the soccer field behind Craig High School.
They complained about ants and squinted into the sky.
“I don’t even know why were out here,” a few kids grumbled.
The response was generally: “To watch Miss Jensen jump out of a plane. Duh.”
The students forgot the heat and the ants the moment they caught sight of the Golden Knights announcer spiraling toward the ground with his yellow parachute and pink smoke trail.
“Oh! I’m so nervous!” one girl said. “I hope she’s OK.”
A few minutes later, the students enthusiastically cheered for Spanish teacher Kate Jensen, who made her first parachute jump Tuesday morning in front of the Craig student body. She jumped in tandem with Sgt. 1st Class Mike Elliott, who famously jumped with George H.W. Bush in 2009 when the former president celebrated his 85th birthday.
“She said she’s in good hands,” said Karina Triller, a Craig sophomore and one of Jensen’s students.
Elliott and Jensen sped toward the ground, eliciting gasps from the students. Then Elliot touched down gently, and the two waved to the crowd.
Moments later, seven more Golden Knights spiraled and looped from the sky to complete the show.
The Golden Knights are the U.S. Army’s elite parachute team. The team performed Tuesday at Craig and Parker as it wrapped up its visit to Southern Wisconsin AirFest over the weekend.
Along with Jensen, a photographer, the announcer and eight parachutists participated in the jump. At Parker, social studies teacher Bill Conway jumped with the Golden Knights on Tuesday afternoon.
Jensen, a former figure skater who’s taught at Craig for five years, was still a little shaky—but still very smiley—after her jump. She was joined by a crowd of her impressed co-workers and Craig Principal Mike Kuehne.
They were even more impressed when they learned that Jensen jumped from a plane at 12,000 feet and free-fell 10,000 feet.
Jensen tried not to think too much about the jump over the long Memorial Day weekend, she said.
Once she was buckled safely to Elliott, she gave up on being nervous, she said. In a seated position, there was nothing she could do but hold on while Elliot stepped out of the plane, she said.
“Once I realized I couldn’t do anything, it was like, ‘Here we go,’” Jensen said.