Education

These Charlotte kids named their rocket Trump and went to DC. Guess who took notice?

When students from Charlotte’s Victory Christian Center School decided to revive a rocketry team tradition of naming their rockets, one of the groups christened their rocket Trump.

And if there’s anyone who likes seeing his name on things, it’s the president. So when the team went to Washington, D.C., on Friday to get ready for the national competition, they ended up showing their entry to President Donald Trump in the Oval Office.

“That’s a mean-looking machine, huh?” the president said as the team set down their sleek black projectile with his name in gold letters.

Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, introduced the team when the national press corps came in. They spent a little under 5 minutes exchanging pleasantries and having their pictures taken.

“How did you come up with the name Trump?” the president asked.

“Simply because it conquers all,” one student replied, drawing a handshake from the president and cheers from his classmates.

“They’re never going to put that on television,” Trump said.

Two teams from the south Charlotte private school advanced through earlier contests to earn a place in this weekend’s Team America Rocketry Challenge national competition. They knew they would meet with congressional leaders and industry officials on Capitol Hill, but it was not immediately known how the presidential photo op shaped up.

“For the past five years, the students have flown rockets without naming them. But after learning the school’s best-performing rocket, the McCullough III, had been given a name six years ago, the students decided to resume naming their rockets,” Ramona Patterson, the school’s promotions assistant, said in an email before they left. “The school’s very first team was comprised solely of STEM geeks. Today’s teams consist of a mixture of students, mostly fun-lovers whose affection for rocketry, engineering and advanced math has come through trial and error, many giggles and plenty of crashes.”

Although it didn’t come up, Victory Christian Center School has 82 students this year who receive North Carolina Opportunity Scholarships, which help pay tuition for low- to moderate-income families who move their children from public to private school. School choice, including voucher programs like North Carolina’s, is central to Trump’s education platform. His Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, is a major proponent of vouchers and charter schools.

Ann Doss Helms: 704-358-5033, @anndosshelms

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