Astronaut visits Kingston school named for him

KINGSTON — A goal that seems as far away as the moon might now seem attainable to children at Richard Gordon Elementary School.

On Monday, they met a man who actually walked in space and traveled to the moon and back, the school’s namesake, a man who knows a little about going after faraway targets.

Richard Gordon, who grew up in Kingston during the Great Depression, became one of 21 men who took on missions to the moon. As far as he went in the command module dubbed “Yankee Clipper” in November 1969, Gordon told the kids at the school named for him they could one day go farther. To Mars, even.

What they do now, he said, will make a difference. “When you are young, education is the most important thing you will ever do.”

Gordon’s visit to the school — named for him in 1994 — was well timed, said Principal Rachel Osborn. The assembly helped connect some of the children and faculty who were in schools elsewhere a year ago and were moved to the school this year as part of the North Kitsap School District’s boundary changes. Those changes came after the district closed another elementary school, but Gordon Elementary was one of three schools the School Board considered as a possible closure target.

That possibility seemed as far away as the moon, too, as Osborn spoke to the roughly 480 students attending about Gordon’s legacy, something they can ponder each day as they pass the school’s astronaut statue near the entrance. As challenges come, she said, “You can think about the legacy Mr. Gordon has left for us … the legacy of never giving up.”

The assembly went from serious to fun in a hurry. The students joined in singing the school’s song, which is addressed to Gordon himself, one that proclaims that “maybe someday we can fly to the moon.”

Osborn had exited and returned dressed in an astronaut costume and led a question-and-answer session with the real flyer. The questions came from the students. When asked why he wanted to go to the moon, Gordon deadpanned, “If you had six children, where would you want to go?”

Another student had asked whether he encountered rocks. “There are lots of rocks,” he said. “One of them is called the Earth.”

The astronaut previously flew a jet from Los Angeles to New York in less than three hours, topping out at 869.74 mph. It takes more speed than that to break the Earth’s hold on you, he said. He and his mates traveled as fast as 17,500 mph to get away from Earth and about 25,000 mph to come home, a three-day trip each way.

As the questions ended, “Fly Me to the Moon” began and the 84-year-old took to dancing with a former North Kitsap classmate, Mary Page, who was there among other Gordon childhood friends and family.

Gordon’s younger brother, Norman Gordon, who lives in Redmond, said he witnessed the Apollo 12 launch from 3 miles away and felt the ground shake as his brother and flight mates Pete Conrad and Alan Bean lifted off. He said he wasn’t worried either time his brother went to space, first as a space walker in the Gemini program and then as command module pilot on Apollo 12. “I was probably more proud than anything,” Norman Gordon said.

After Monday, there are probably about 480 more kids who would say the same thing.

More in Local News

Lynnwood robbery leads to lockdown at Edmonds schools

Edmonds police said it was just a precaution as they search around Edmonds-Woodway High School.

1 person shot in Everett thrift store parking lot

Multiple people called 911 after overhearing a loud argument and then multiple gunshots.

Marysville 7-Eleven hit by armed robbers

Officers set up a perimeter and brought in a police dog, but the man couldn’t be found.

2 women struck, injured while crossing busy roads

The first happened Wednesday night in Everett. The second was Thursday morning in Edmonds.

One dead in crash south of Granite Falls

Two cars collided near the intersection of N. Lake Roesiger Road and Hidden Valley Road.

Old Silvana Creamery recalling whole raw milk

The milk was sold at the farm store, directly to customers and at local stores.

Signs show the rates for using the express toll lanes for traffic headed southbound on Interstate 405, Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2016, in Bothell, Wash. Gov. Jay Inslee announced plans Tuesday to try to decrease congestion on I-405 in answer to commuter complaints that the new express lane tolling system is making traffic worse. The governor said he would not be shutting down the tolling system as some people have called for. But the state transportation department is making plans to add new northbound general purpose lanes to ease some of the congestion and also plan to make it easier to move into and out of the express lanes. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
If drivers paid even more, I-405 toll lanes might speed up

A report recommends lifting the maximum toll of $10 and varying it by segment traveled.

Departing mayor’s locally drawn portrait joins city’s pantheon

Artist Elizabeth Person’s portrait of Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson will hang with others at City Hall.

Investigation recommends girl shot by officers face charges

The teen is accused of assaulting her boyfriend and the responding police officers.

Most Read