EASLEY — McKissick Elementary students gathered at their school Monday night for an “out of this world” experience.
Patrick Forrester, an astronaut with NASA, paid students a visit in hopes of educating them on the importance of studying science and technology.
McKissick Principal Del Freitag says this was an incredible opportunity for local families.
“This is possibly a once in a lifetime opportunity for our students to meet a real live astronaut with NASA,” said Freitag. “This was a first for me.”
Forrester opened his presentation with a video of himself riding a space shuttle to the International Space Station. This got a few “wows” from the crowd.
“All the astronauts in the office try and get out about once a month or so to talk to a school,” said Forrester. “We try to encourage them to study math, science and engineering.”
Forrester says his message during the presentation was to the parents.
“My message is to the parents,” said Forrester. “It’s just for them to support their kids as they go about their studies in STEM education.”
Freitag says this was a big event for the local community.
“It’s a big thing,” said Freitag. “Each month we do a nice family night. As a Title I school, we offer a lot of programs for our parents. Some of them are purely academic and some of them are parenting skill oriented programs.”
“We’re lucky enough to have a guy like Patrick who has been working with NASA and has a lot of experience working with space shuttles,” Freitag continued. “He’s come to a couple of schools so we brought him here and he came and talked with the parents and the kids.”
Forrester is an Army veteran who has plenty of experience in the air.
“My background is in the Army. I was a test pilot for 27 years,” said Forrester. “I became an astronaut with NASA, and I’ve flown three times on the space shuttle (twice on Discovery, once on Atlantis),” said Forrester. “All of my missions have been up to the International Space Station to help with the construction of it.”
Forrester says those trips were some of his most amazing moments.
“I’ve done four space walks,” said Forrester. “That’s what I do on those missions to help assemble the space stations. It was just a wonderful experience.”