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|Boley students participate in 'Signatures in Space'|
Dozens of Boley Elementary students will have their signatures blasted into space when NASA launches its next shuttle in October.
Boley was one of 500 schools NASA picked worldwide to participate in its "Signatures in Space" program.
Students signed a poster adorned with their school mascot Friday during the national Space Day 2008 celebrations. Also during the day, the students participated in various science-related activities. They watched rockets shoot into the air, and they enjoyed a virtual tour of the constellations through a portable space walk brought on campus.
Glenda Brame, fourth and fifth grade science and social studies teacher, submitted the application to NASA for participation in the program. She learned last week that Boley was one of the 500 selected.
She said one of the reasons NASA is conducting the program is to get more children interested in science.
"They want you to be interested in space, technology, math and science," Brame told the students before they signed the poster.
"NASA needs lots of students," Brame said. "They don't just need astronauts. They need people who like to do art, who like to be on television, and people who can research plants."
Barbara Reinike, Space Day program manager for Lockheed Martin, said classes can follow October's space shuttle mission from launch to landing. Students will have the chance to interact with the astronauts on STS-126 as it docks at the international space station. Students will be able to chat with the astronauts in real-time through the internet. They will also correspond with the astronauts by e-mail.
Once the shuttle lands, the posters will be returned to be permanently displayed at Boley along with a flight certificate and a picture of the crew that carried the signatures into space.
State Sen. Mike Walsworth and Rep. Frank Hoffmann visited with Boley students Friday and also signed their names, along with the students.
Walsworth reminded the children that West Monroe's only astronaut, Jim Halsell, attended Boley.
Walsworth was a classmate of Halsell's, and he remembers how Halsell often told his friends that he was going to be an astronaut.
"We used to joke with him and say, 'Sure, you're going to be an astronaut one day,'" Walsworth said. "But he fulfilled his dreams, and became a very successful person."
Hoffmann, who once taught at Boley, said the entire community is proud of Boley Elementary for being chosen to participate in this program.
"You all are doing exciting things," Hoffmann said. "Boley Elementary is a great school. We see what you do; we watch you carefully in this community and we're all very proud of you."
"Signatures in Space" is jointly sponsored by NASA and Lockheed Martin. Since the program began in 1997, nearly 4.5 million students have participated. There is no cost to participate, but participation is limited to only 500 schools worldwide each year.