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Astronaut Mark Kelly and Congresswoman Gabby Giffords Pay Surprise Visit to Kelly Elementary School

WEST ORANGE, NJ - Kelly Elementary School had some very special surprise visitors on Nov. 2 when Astronaut Mark Kelly and his wife, Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, stopped by to say hello.


Students were enjoying their "NED" assembly promoting kindness to others when Principal Dr. Joanne Pollara was called into the office for an ill student. As Dr. Pollara looked out the window, she said, "Much to my surprise and delight, I saw Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly and their assistants walking up our front walk!"


"The Kellys were in town to make several scheduled appearances, but said they couldn't be this close to us without stopping by to see us," Pollara continued.


Although they only had a few minutes to visit, Dr. Pollara and the Kellys interrupted the assembly to the cheers of the students and teachers. Mark Kelly spoke to the students for a few minutes before the couple headed out to their next appointment.


Kelly Elementary School, formerly Pleasantdale Elementary School, was renamed for Astronauts Mark and Scott Kelly in April, 2016. The astronauts grew up in West Orange and both attended Pleasantdale. A special bond has grown between the Kellys and the school, with the astronauts making several appearances to spend time with students and staff, including a few broadcasts from the space shuttle while Scott Kelly spent a year in space.


"Mark and Gabby left us all feeling so grateful that they chose to spend a few minutes of their time with us...time is a precious gift," noted Dr. Pollara.




Kelly Elementary Music teacher Deborah Rees, Congresswoman 

Gabby Giffords, Kelly Principal Dr. Joanne Pollara, Astronaut Mark Kelly.

Cynthia Cumming