by S. Purdom
Murray High School Juniors Chosen to Attend 2017
International Space School
Photo: (from left) Kagan Hileman and Than Thawainin 2017 MHS International Space School recipients
Murray, Ky., April 14—Murray High School juniors Kagan Hileman and Tahn Thawainin have been selected as the 2017 MHS United Space School recipients. These two will represent the only U.S. high school for the 15th year in a row at the International Space School, a two-week space academic learning initiative in Houston’s Bay area. Affiliated with NASA’s Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, United Space School invites one U.S. high school along with approximately 34 students from 18 other countries to participate each summer. Hileman and Thawainin will join students from countries that include Canada, Mexico, Chile, Bolivia, South Africa, Namibia, Italy, France, Germany, England, Russia and India representatives.
While there, the participant’s daily activities involve working with civil and contractor aerospace professionals to provide needs-based instruction in topics relevant to designing a “Manned Mission to Mars,” assignment. Divided into four teams, each team designated by a colored uniform, is responsible for a specific and integrated portion of the Mission while attending the school.
To apply students completed a Manned Mission to Mars application and assignment through Murray High School. An MHS panel comprised of former space camp members and MHS faculty members make the final decision. “We look at many factors in addition to the planned lesson they are required to complete as their application process. Problem solving, attendance and behavior and people skills are main factors that are also reviewed when making the final decision,” Teresa Speed, MHS principal, said. “This opportunity presents a gateway into future NASA job opportunities with all the participants.”
Hileman and Thawainin, join other past MHS recipients that include: Abby Parker and Adrian Gaddis (2016) Megan Wilson and J.R. Williams (2015), Etta Danielson and Prashant Chakradhar, (2014),Victoria Holmes and Jacob Barron (2013), Alex Carney and Stephen Orr (2012), Morgan Huston and Fumi Nakamura (2011), Carolina Covington and Robert Cignoni (2010) (Covington wasn’t able to attend and Ian Holmes attended in her place), Chloe Zimmerer and Paul Gong (2009), Christin Gong and Nathan Watson (2008), Caitlin Williams and Bradley Cobb (2007), Sarah Kuykendall and Luke Welch (2006), Laura Harris and Austin Carter (2005), Jonathan Raj and Rachael Williams (2004), and Ryan Cobb and Haley Hart (2003).
Robert Alexander, a shuttle robotics engineer with MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates and ISS board member, assists the ISS board of directors with a panel of distinguished aerospace professionals by serving as an advisor in strategically locating the schools represented at ISS. Alexander, the grandson of the late Dr. Max and Kay Carman, said Murray High School was first invited 15 years ago when Murray’s diversity, along with their science and math test rankings, helped in being chosen as the U.S. representative. “Murray’s location, little exposure and a diverse community, were among the criteria that aided in the decisive factor,” he said. “The fact that the school system had won numerous awards and applause for achievement was also a main factor that was appealing to our United States high school representative."
Teresa Speed, MHS principal, said these students are to be commended for this outstanding accomplishment. “To send our students to this national stellar program for fifteen years in a row is such an attribute to our students and their hard work,” she said. “I’m very proud of Kagan and Tahn. They are exemplary ambassadors for MHS.”
Hileman is the daughter of Sabrina Houck and Christopher Hileman, Thawainin is the son of Hathaikan Frifa and Tim Wallin. All of Murray.