CARIBOU, Maine — History has been made and a lifelong dream achieved all at the same time on Wednesday. That’s when Jessica Meir lifted off into space.
Meir is a Caribou native and has wanted to be an astronaut since she was a kid.
You can take the kid out The County but you can’t take The County out of the kid. And the entire Caribou community is standing behind her.
Students at Caribou Middle School took a break from their morning classes on Wednesday to gather in the cafeteria and watch Meir’s dreams come true.
Eighth-grader Claire Ouellette says her favorite part of watching the launch, “seeing her final wave before she entered the spacecraft.”
That wave was a favorite for CMS students of all ages. Mrs. McDuffie’s fourth-grade class waved goodbye as Meir boarded the Soyuz MS-15 rocket.
The whole school looked on as Meir lifted off, but some students had met her a few years ago when she visited Caribou High School.
“When we met her, we got her autograph and she wrote ad astra on my paper and what that means is to the stars and to see her go to the stars is really incredible,” Ouellette said.
“When I was waiting in line [to meet Meir] I had this feeling, that maybe she will be in space someday and to get to meet her and to get her to sign her autograph and to have that hanging on my wall just inspires me every day to be more like her because she’s my role model,” eighth-grader Laura Plourd added.
For many students, going to the same middle school as Meir is exciting.
“She would have probably been standing right here where I’m standing right now,” fourth-grader, Trevor Laplante said.
Meir has motivated many students to want to have careers in not just math and science fields, but have careers in space.
“It would be cool to be an astronaut,” Laplante said with a smile.
“Probably want to be like, related to space for a job. Probably an astronomical engineer or something like that, mainly inspired by her,” eighth-grader Calvin Hersey said.
But it’s not just young boys Meir has inspired over the years.
“These young girls now are talking about jobs in STEM, jobs in math and science and things like that, because they know that they can do it because Jessica has shown them that they can,” seventh-grade teacher Steve Perreault said.
Perreault is a 40-year veteran teacher at Caribou Middle School, getting ready to retire at the end of the school year. He was a teacher when Meir was a student.
“There was something about Jessica where you knew there was something different with her,” he said. “Jessica always had that, what if with her. That anything was possible.”
Meir has long since graduated, but still remains a vital part of the Caribou school community.
“They talk about her and that’s the beginning of that inspiration. She has inspired the whole school,” Perreault said.
It was apparent watching in along with students at Caribou Middle School that Caribou, Aroostook County, and the entire Pine Tree State has a sense of pride.
“I feel a lot of pride and a lot of excitement for Jessica,” Perreault said.
And no matter where she goes, “she has never forgotten where she came from,” Perreault said.
So much so that Meir will be chatting with students at Caribou Middle and High Schools from space! Students will be given the opportunity to ask her questions and see inside the International Space Station on Oct. 29.