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Work of Norwalk's Young Astronauts Blasts Off

NORWALK, Conn. — Fifth-graders Amy Traore and Betsy Burke had the moon on their minds and dirt on their hands Friday, digging in the rocky soil to plant daffodil bulbs at Cranbury Park.

Amy and Betsy were among the 19 members of the Columbus Magnet School Young Astronauts program who are collaborating with the Friends of Cranbury Park on a beautification project for the park.

"Since the Earth means everything to us, we're giving back to her," Amy said.

Amy and Betsy said their crew will go to the moon in the school's annual simulated space mission for a select group of fifth-graders, who begin training for the privilege in first grade.

The mission takes place in May and is preceded by a year of science and technology lessons, physical training and team-building exercises.

The Friends loaned the kids the tools and the Department of Recreation and Parks provided the bulbs. The first community service project for the 2012 class of astronauts involved planting 1,000 bulbs, extending a line started by their predecessors. After planting bulbs behind the Gallaher mansion, the kids moved to the entry driveway of the park, where Columbus Magnet astronauts planted bulbs three years ago. Those children marked the spot they stopped planting with rocks. This year's kids began planting at those rocks, digging toward the mansion.

Second grade teacher Andy Pearce, known by the astronauts as "C in C," or commander in chief, said his students are re-enacting Apollo 17, the last mission to go to the moon. The children who began the daffodils along the driveway were re-enacting Apollo 11, the first mission to go to the moon.

The fact that the Apollo 17 kids were finishing what the Apollo kids began was a "neat little symmetry," he said.

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