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Mission accomplished: After 5 million-mile space journey, T-shirt 
returns to Haverhill school
By Mike LaBella , Staff Writer

HAVERHILL. MA. - It seems almost everyone at Golden Hill Elementary 
School has one of those purple T-shirts bearing the school's name and 
the image of an eagle, the school mascot.

Members of the track team wear them. So do members of the Student 
Council and even students not involved with any organized group.

But one of the shirts that looks the same as all the others has a 
special story to tell, a tale about a journey of more than 5 million 
miles - all the way from the school to Florida, then into space and back 

Yesterday, students and staff gathered in the school auditorium to 
welcome the shirt back home.

It had traveled 5.3 million miles, orbiting Earth 202 times during space 
shuttle Discovery's 13-day mission.

The journey began two years ago when students in teachers Mary Larcome 
and Joann Atwood's classes contacted NASA astronaut Mark Kelly, the man 
chosen to pilot Discovery. Kelly attended the U.S. Merchant Marine 
Academy in Kings Point, N.Y., with U.S. Naval Reserve Cmdrs. John Zaino 
and his wife, Terri Zaino. They are the brother and sister-in-law of 
Judy Zaino, supervisor of elementary curriculum for Haverhill schools.

During a family gathering, John Zaino asked his nephew and niece, Golden 
Hill students Joshua Zaino and Lia Zaino, what they were studying in 
school. Joshua told him he was learning about space. John Zaino talked 
about his friendship with Kelly and his work with NASA.

One thing led to another, and soon students in Larcome and Atwood's 
classes were e-mailing questions about space travel to John Zaino, who 
in turn relayed the questions to Kelly.

But Joshua and his sister had an even better idea. After talking with 
their grandmother Barbara Zaino of Wilmington, they decided to ask Kelly 
if he would take one of their school T-shirts into space.

"I thought it would be a cool thing to do," Joshua said. "I really 
didn't think the shirt would come back to us."

John Zaino told his niece and nephew that it would be a difficult thing 
to get approved, but he would do his best to make it happen - and he was 

"I think this is a fairly rare situation," John Zaino said moments 
before addressing yesterday's crowd. "There are very limited and 
restrictive packing requirements on the space shuttle."

Superintendent Raleigh Buchanan was there to witness the shirt's return 
to Golden Hill and applauded the efforts of students whose idea to 
contact NASA culminated in this historic event.

"There are 16,000 school districts in America and 38 million elementary 
students out there," Buchanan told the crowd. "It's quite an honor that 
we can bring recognition to this school."

The students were ecstatic during the event.

"Both classes of students and both teachers had signed the Golden Hill 
T-shirt," fifth-grader Sarah Slocum said during yesterday's ceremonies.

"Astronaut and pilot Mark Kelly came through for us big time," 
fifth-grader Ashley Boulanger said.

Along with the shirt, Kelly sent three shuttle mission patches to Golden 
Hill. Principal Bonnie Antkowiak raffled them. The winners were 
second-grader Angelica Castro, third-grader Arielle Angiuano and 
sixth-grader Anthony Quinney.

"I'm going to put the patch in a safe spot," Anthony said after 
receiving it.

No one will ever get to wear the shirt that went into space. It is going 
on display at the school.

There is another shirt, however, one that did not go into space but was 
signed by shuttle pilot Kelly. Golden Hill plans to raffle that shirt 
and use the proceeds to buy science materials. Tickets are $1 each and 
are available at the school at 140 Boardman St.
Haverhill, Ma.01830

Travels of the Golden Hill T-shirt

Is carried almost 1,500 miles from Haverhill to Kennedy Space Center in 

Blasts off into space July 4, 2006, aboard the space shuttle.

Orbits Earth 202 times, traveling 5.3 million miles.

Lands back in Florida July 17, 2006.

Returns to Golden Hill School in Haverhill yesterday.

Students' questions to astronaut Mark Kelly

Q. What does zero gravity feel like?

A. It feels like you're going over the top of the roller coaster 
initially. Then you get used to it and you can fly around the spaceship 
like Superman. It is a lot of fun!

Q. If you squeeze toothpaste in the space shuttle, will it float?

A. Everything floats.

Q. What kinds of food do you eat in space?

A. There are about 500 things on the menu that you can choose from. One 
of my favorites is the shrimp cocktail. I also like the Mexican 
scrambled eggs, the chicken in peanut sauce and of course, the spinach.

Q. Is it hard to walk in a spacesuit?

A. The suits we launch in are called launch and entry suits. They're 
probably about 70 pounds so it is hard to walk into and out of the space 
shuttle. The suits that we do the spacewalks in are about 700 pounds, 
but we only wear those in zero gravity so then they don't weigh anything.

Q. What does the launch feel like?

A. Like a runaway train going 1,000 miles per hour.

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