Northern California elementary students are TSA Junior Officers for the day

Thursday, July 14, 2022
Arcata Airport photo

In Northern California, a small-town airport, locally referred to as Arcata Airport (ACV) in coastal Humboldt County, partnered with the community to provide an airport security experience to remember.

Six classrooms of children from Morris Elementary in McKinleyville, California, took a field trip to ACV for a guided checkpoint and baggage tour and a simulated screening exercise.

“In the past, we also held familiarization tours for autistic children in order to get them used to the sights and sounds of a checkpoint,” said Lead TSA Manager Jessica Ackroyd. “We have also been pleased to host groups specializing in training guide dogs for the blind.”  

Group of students photo
Lead Transportation Security Officer Kristopher Luiz shows a group of students what a bag with assorted everyday items looks like when it is X-rayed. (Photo courtesy of AVC)

Ackroyd collaborated with Lucinda Jackson, the administrative analyst with the Humboldt County Department of Aviation, to host this airport visit for nearly 80 students.

Children studying CAT
Transportation Security Officer Wesley Freitas gives the children a chance to experience the Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) machine up close. (Photo courtesy of ACV)

During the TSA portion of the tour, the students were greeted at Travel Document Checker position with a TSA junior officer sticker as a gesture of badging in. “They were fascinated that the TSA junior officer foil stickers made the hand wands beep,” said Ackroyd.

The checkpoint tour coordinator, Supervisory TSA Officer Carol Guest, assigned teams to Lead TSA Officer Kris Luiz and TSA Officers Don Beardsley and Wesley Freitas. They organized the students into groups and allowed them the opportunity to take turns exploring all of the checkpoint’s major screening equipment.

The students explored ACV’s single lane checkpoint and baggage area overlooking the ocean. On X-ray, “they thought it was cool that the different objects lit up in different colors,” Luiz said.

“I told the kids to keep little items in their pockets to show them that the Advanced Imaging Technology machine will ‘see’ them,” Freitas added. “They were amazed to see the area light right up on the screen.”

The children also visited the airfield, the airport fire station and checked out aircraft up close in a few hangers.

“The airport authority has tried to rebrand the airport,” Ackroyd said. "We average up to two field trips a year and look forward to many continued trips from the children in the community in the future.”

By TeaNeisha Barker, TSA Strategic Communications & Public Affairs