NASA astronaut visits junior ROTC students at Clarke Central High School

Clarke Central High School Junior ROTC recently hosted an astronaut who shared how the military gave him the opportunity to serve not only his country but humanity.

NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough, who is also a retired U.S. Army colonel, spoke Friday to Clarke Central cadets and visitors from JROTC units at other high schools in the area.

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Kimbrough said he wanted to tell the cadets about the “incredible opportunities the Army has given me” and his spaceflight experiences, which include missions on the International Space Station, where he served with Russian colleagues.

“I hope they can see that the sky’s not even the limit anymore,” Kimbrough said of military opportunities.

According to Kimbrough, who has conducted several spacewalks during his missions, being in space gives a glimpse of the “beauty and fragility” of Earth.

“It never gets old,” he said of being in space. “I’ve been up there for a total of a year now and every time I’m absolutely in awe of our planet.”

NASA astronaut Sane Kimbrough was a guest at Clarke Central High School's JROTC facility on Friday, November 18, 2022.

President Ronald Reagan gave Shane Kimbrough an appointment as President of West Point

Kimbrough graduated from high school at the Lovett School in Atlanta and had his eye on possibly playing baseball for Georgia Tech before President Ronald Reagan bestowed him with a presidential nomination at West Point.

Prior to his address to the cadets, the astronaut was given a tour of Clarke Central’s JROTC facility, where he was coached by Central’s JROTC instructor, First Sgt. Antione Clark.

NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough greets Clarke Central former JROTC members Caleb Miller and Karamyah Harris on Friday, November 18, 2022.

Kimbrough was in Athens where he was scheduled to deliver the keynote address at the Georgia Military Officers Association of America Annual Conference, held Saturday night at the Georgia Center on the University of Georgia campus.

Kimbrough’s visit to Clarke Central was joined by members of the Military Officers Association, including retired combat veteran Col. Paul Longgrear. Also present were retired officers Andrew Neighbors, Hugh Barclay and David Dupree.

Kimbrough asked Clark how many ROTC cadets were physical education students. Clark guessed about 10%.

“Some students don’t know that they can do ROTC and play sports. We’re an elective like sports or art,” Clark said. “Don’t think that just because you’re in the band you can’t take ROTC.”

JROTC Instructor Sgt. Antione Clark, right, shows Astronaut Shane Kimbrough the various uniforms worn by the cadets Friday, November 18, 2022 at Clarke Central High School.

Two former JROTC cadets, Caleb Miller and Karamyah Harris, stopped by the facility, unaware that Kimbrough would be paying a visit.

The officials asked her about her experiences in the unit.

“It helped me get out of my shell,” said Miller, who attends Georgia Southern University.

Current cadet Karla Pastor told about her experiences.

“It taught me to speak up more because I’m naturally shy and it gave me an opportunity to be more confident,” said Pastor, who plans to attend North Georgia University in Dahlonega after graduation.