Students and staff at Blessed Sacrament welcomed NASA astronaut Col. Alvin Drew on Nov. 25. Drew, an Air Force colonel, is based at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. He was a member of the crew for the August 2007 Endeavor Space Shuttle mission that went into orbit and visited the International Space Station to make repairs and replenish supplies.
Col. Drew was fascinated with NASA's Apollo missions to the moon during the 1970s, when he was a student at Saint Anthony School in Washington, D.C., which was staffed by the Benedictine Sisters of Elizabeth. His first-grade teacher at the time was Sister Ursula Butler, O.S.B., who is now the principal at Blessed Sacrament.
"He was a very gifted child. He always had an excitement to learn," Sr. Ursula recalled, sharing her fondest memories of Col. Drew. "As a student he had a great interest in the NASA missions and said he wanted to be an astronaut."
Last year, prior to his Endeavor mission, Col. Drew contacted Sr. Ursula and discussed plans to see her when his schedule permitted. As it turned out, he was traveling through the metropolitan area last month and made the arrangements.
Col. Drew addressed the Blessed Sacrament students at an assembly and discussed the history of space exploration by the United States. He told the assembly there could be a future astronaut in the room and enjoyed the many engaging questions posed by students. Col. Drew later went to each classroom to pose for photos with students.
Following his stay at Blessed Sacrament School, Col. Drew stopped at Saint Walburga Monastery to visit former teachers he had at Saint Anthony's in Washington D.C. He visited with Sister Alice Kelly, O.S.B., who was principal when he was a student and Sister Damien Gatti, O.S.B., who taught him language arts.