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Astronaut Mark Kelly Returns to Pleasantdale Elementary School

WEST ORANGE, NJ – It’s no secret that astronauts Mark and Scott Kelly are the two most famous graduates of Pleasantdale Elementary School in West Orange, and it was an exciting day on Oct. 13 as Captain Mark Kelly paid a special visit to his alma mater.
Captain Kelly is a naval aviator who has traveled to into space four times, including voyages on the Space Shuttles Discovery and Endeavor. He was a pilot and a commander, leading his teams on missions to the International Space Station. Kelly’s twin, Scott, is currently aboard the ISS as part of a year-long study to determine whether travel to Mars may be possible (the trip to Mars would take three years).  NASA will study both brothers upon completion of the study, to help determine the effects of extended space travel.
Excited students and staff saluted Captain Kelly as he entered the Pleasantdale gym. Students had prepared helmets and wore them as part of their recognition. The Student Congress welcomed Kelly and the Fifth Grade Chorus performed two musical numbers, “Land that We Love,” and “Don’t Let the Music Stop,” as well as a reading of Kelly’s children’s book, “Mousetronaut.”
Students presented him with a scrapbook and spirit wear and Superintendent Jeff Rutzky presented Kelly with a WOHS tie, saying he hoped to someday see that tie in space.
Kelly regaled the students with his adventures in space and his fond memories of Pleasantdale School.
“It’s great to be back at Pleasantdale where I spent so many good years,” he began. In addition to Pleasantdale, the Kelly brothers attended Roosevelt Middle School and graduated from Mountain High School in 1982.
“You have a lot to look forward to,” he told students. “Someday you might be able to take a spaceship instead of a plane to travel around the world in a few minutes.”
In describing his childhood, Kelly noted, “I didn’t think about what the future held for me, but if you do well in school, listen to your parents, work hard and pay attention, you will have so many opportunities.”
“Astronaut Kelly has taught us so many things today,” said Pleasantdale Principal Dr. Joanne Pollara, “and that we can reach for the stars. With hard work and a good heart it’s all possible.”
Dr. Pollara then held up a laminated copy of a newspaper heralding the 1969 moon landing.
“This newspaper from 1969 represents the past; Captain Kelly represents our present, and all of your are our future,” Pollara concluded.
To see all the photos from Astronaut Mark Kelly's visit, go here. (Photo credits: Cynthia Cumming)
To see amazing photos from Astronaut Scott Kelly's year-long stay in space, follow him on Twitter at:
 The WOHS Jr. AFROTC leads the assembly in the Pledge of Allegiance.
 Fifth grade students salute Captain Kelly.
 Students pay respect to Captain Kelly with astronaut helmets.
Fifth grade students perform a reading of Kelly's children's book, "Mousetronaut." 
 Astronaut Mark Kelly speaks to students.
Superintendent Jeff Rutzky, Principal Dr. Joanne Pollara, BOE member Laura Lab, Buzz Lightyear, Pleasantdale Astronaut, Captain Kelly, BOE Member Mark Robertson, BOE member Mark Robertson, BOE member Sandra Mordecai, BOE President Ron Charles, Asst. Superintendent Dr. Donna Rando.
Cynthia Cumming