Students Give Up Snow Day To Talk To Astronauts

CELINA, Ohio (AP) - A chance to talk to astronauts in space kept school open on a snow day.

More than 100 students showed up at Immaculate Conception School on Tuesday despite a snow day so they wouldn't miss a chance to talk to astronauts aboard the International Space Station.

"What kind of a chance do you get to talk to an astronaut in space?" Matt Clausen, 11, said when asked about passing on a chance for typical snow day activities such as sledding and snowball fights.

Col. Carl Walz (pictured, above) called the school in September and offered to speak with students from the space station. He had visited the school in 1998 after talking with students from the space shuttle Atlantis in 1996.

A cable company equipped the school with a satellite link.

Twelve students were picked to participate in a question and answer session with the astronauts that lasted 25 minutes.

"I thought it was really cool because we were one of only three schools in the whole world that got to talk to the space station," said Mac Hinders, 11.

Students asked astronauts how it felt to be weightless in space and what was difficult about their jobs. A kindergartner asked if Santa Claus visited the space station at Christmas.

Walz, a South Euclid native, said Santa didn't come in because his sled couldn't dock at the station's hatch.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)