Nov 28 2007: Kickoff Assembly

Edward Harris MS Officially Becomes a NASA Explorer School

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Edward Harris Jr. Middle School celebrated becoming a NASA Explorer School with several days of activities highlighted by a kickoff assembly featuring NASA Astronaut John Herrington.

The week before the kickoff, a group of dedicated (and artistic) students helped prepare a mural to use as a backdrop for photos. They came in after school to sketch and paint what turned out to be a very impressive piece of work. When the folks from NASA saw it, their jaws dropped and all they could say was "Wow!"

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During the week of the kickoff assembly, teachers presented lessons via NASA-inspired activites and a contest was held to determine who would have lunch with Mr. Herrington.

johnherrington.jpgOn the morning of the assembly, Mr. Herrington arrived and signed autographs for the winners of a student contest to design a mission patch for their community (and also for the visiting government dignitaries).

During the assembly, Mr. Herrington inspired the students, staff and guests to become an astronaut. He described his love for flying, his adventure in the Navy, his career as a test pilot, and his lifelong dream of going to the moon, which eventually lead him to apply for the NASA Space Program. Mr. Herrington was a Mission Specialist who performed EVAs (Extra-Vehicular Activities; he went outside the spacecraft!) so he had some great video clips and anecdotes. How cool is it to be holding on to the rails of the space station with just a couple fingers while moving at over 17,000 miles per hour? How about being able to move a 300 pound object with ease?

Mr. Herrington is the first Native American to fly in space. He also spoke about his pride in his culture. He carried a flag of the Chickisaw Nation and some other cultural items with him on his flight. He talked about the 1970s when he failed several classes and dropped out of school. He didn't know where he was going until someone sat him down and told him that if he wanted to make enough money to support a family, he needed to go back to school and learn to do something.

The kickoff assembly was also attended by Member of Congress Doris Matsui, James Stofan from NASA Headquarters, Tom Clausen from NASA Ames, and representatives of many businesses and community groups in the Elk Grove area.

suitedwithhelmet.jpgAfter the assembly, Mr. Herrington had lunch with a group of students and took pictures with them and several other groups. The NASA Ames folks had brought a mock-up of a space suit that science teacher Autumn Nguyen donned (she freaked out a little when they closed the visor!).

This was a great week. We met a lot of wonderful people and are looking forward to an amazing experience as a NASA Explorer School.

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