This story begins back in the late 1980s, when Country Day parent Jeff Harrick was good friends with Shane Kimbrough, his classmate at West Point. Jeff remembers Shane telling him that one day he would be an astronaut—a highly difficult goal to reach for anyone. Fast forward nearly 30 years to 2017. Jeff’s son, Wil, was in fourth grade and Shane was on his second mission as commander of the International Space Station Expedition. That connection gave Country Day fourth graders the opportunity to Skype and e-mail with Col. Kimbrough while he was in orbit.
Thanks to Jeff Harrick and Lower School science teacher Lori Townsend, Country Day was able to host Col. Kimbrough for a daylong visit with students and teachers from all divisions on March 22. In a series of assemblies, classroom visits, and discussions, students peppered Col. Kimbrough with thoughtful questions about life in space, the future of space exploration, and advice for a career with NASA.
At the Lower School Assembly for grades 1-4, students formed a long line to ask questions.
Col. Kimbrough visited every junior kindergarten and kindergarten classroom, fielding many questions from the excited students.
We broadcast the Upper School Assembly via Facebook live, where students asked deep questions about research, the prospects for reaching Mars, and the atmosphere in flight given strained US/Russia relations. (Plus, one lucky student earned a NASA patch for asking the question everyone wants to know, but is too timid to ask—how do you use the bathroom in space.)
Upper School students from Charles Tuttle’s Astronomy course were invited to a special lunch with Col. Kimbrough. During that exchange, Col. Kimbrough told the students he saw his work as “helping humanity.” Jeff Harrick, relaying the ambitions of his college friend, told the students to “Dream big, dream high.”
Col. Kimbrough ended his day with another assembly at the Middle School, that teacher John Feliciano said on Instagram was “out of this world!” Jeff’s sons Wil (5th) and Jeffrey (7th) introduced their family friend.