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NASA - Native American Students Excited By NASA Astronaut Visit
August 22, 2006
 

"When I was eight years old, I sat in a cardboard refrigerator box and dreamed of going to the moon. I never thought I could accomplish that dream," said former astronaut John Herrington to students at Sanders Middle School, Sanders, Ariz.

Former astronaut John Herrington presents students at Sanders Middle School with an Explorer School flag. Image left: Former astronaut John Herrington presents students at Sanders Middle School, Sanders, Ariz., with a 2006 NASA Explorer School flag. Receiving the flag are Janice Nez, 8th grade, Eukayla Upshaw, 6th grade, and seventh-grader Bradley Lynch. Michelle Davis, Dryden's pre-college officer, looks on. Herrington visited the school on Aug. 18 and told the assembled students that when he was 8 years old, he sat in an old refrigerator box and pretended that he was going to the moon. At that age, Herrington never thought he would fly on the space shuttle and complete three space walks. NASA photo by Tom Tschida

Herrington was the first Native American to be selected as a NASA astronaut. Students at both Sanders, with more than a 90 percent Native American population, and Cottonwood Day School, a Bureau of Indian Affairs facility located near Chinle, Ariz, were thrilled to ask Herrington questions about being an astronaut.

Cottonwood Day School celebrated their selection as a NASA Explorer School on Aug. 17 during morning and afternoon assemblies for approximately 225 students in grades kindergarten through eight. When Herrington explained that moving the International Space Station's P1 Truss during STS-113 was similar to taking a school bus by its rear view mirrors and swinging it around, the students who travel for miles by bus to their daily lessons could visualize it.

Herrington was at Sanders' 2006 Explorer School kick-off event on Aug. 18 where more than 300 sixth through eighth graders heard Herrington's words of encouragement. He enjoyed rock climbing more than studying during his first year of college and was asked to leave the school. He worked the following year and during that time met a man who suggested Herrington to do more with his life than settle for a job that paid $4.00 per hour.

John Herrington explains why liquid salt is used during meals aboard the space shuttle or International Space Station. Image right: Edwin Begay and Marlandow Begay listen to former astronaut John Herrington explain why liquid salt is used during meals aboard the space shuttle or International Space Station. The students attend Cottonwood Day School, a Bureau of Indian Affairs school located near Chinle, Ariz. Herrington visited the 2006 NASA Explorer School on Aug. 17. NASA photo by Tom Tschida

Returning to college and joining the Navy set Herrington on the path to STS-113, spending 330 hours in space and accomplishing three Extra Vehicular Activities. This was an eight-year-old's dream realized.

Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley suggested that Sanders students take several simple actions that could lead to the remarkable career of an astronaut. He instructed the students to come to school and not miss a day. They should sit in the front of the classroom and ask questions. Homework should be completed and turned in. Finally, stay away from drugs and gangs. "Stay the course every day, and you will make your mark," said Shirley.

Beth Hagenauer
NASA Public Affairs

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Page Last Updated: September 5th, 2013
Page Editor: NASA Administrator