Space... the final frontier for pupils at Friends School

Friends’ School took a giant leap recently when they launched a pupil into space. Sort of.

The school, who won fame with their lipdub YouTube video last year, have got the camera out once again and created a fantastic new video for YouTube - FSL student goes into space.

The Friends space mission video has been dedicated to a former pupil, Craig Lewsley, who sadly died in a road accident last year during his third year as a medical student at Queen’s University.

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Last year Friends’ teacher Steven Robinson had an idea to send a piece of the school into space. The topic was deemed by many as ridiculous, and yet a few weeks later Mr Robinson took centre stage during main assembly, and unveiled plans to put FSL amongst the stars.

Based on the literal sense of the school motto which is ‘Seek the things that are above’ the aim of the project was to send a school flag, made up of 1,000 signatures to the edge of space.

Mr Robinson was inspired by the London 2012 Olympics. It was during the opening ceremony that he was motivated by a countdown, taking in numbers from around London and thought it would be an excellent way of representing different aspects of school life in the video.

Year 12 pupils, Aimée Lenfestey, Natasha Crumlish and Jessica Peel, with the guidance of Mr Robinson and past pupil Matt Good, started work on a countdown video. The video would feature a mixture of still images, stop-motion and video to countdown from 30 and feature various aspects of school life.

There was even a surprise visit from past pupil Stephen Ferris who represented the number six in his Irish rugby jersey.

The rest of the team was made up of 16 Year 14 pupils, who quickly started work on the capsule, school flag and the launch day itself.

“Soon we had a large flag, covered in the signatures of the entire school, ready to be placed into a custom-built space capsule constructed by Gareth Mercer with the assistance of Mr Wilson,” explained student Jessica Peel.

“Launch day was incredibly hectic, with everyone trying to lend a hand in any way possible. Jordan Fitzpatrick was dressed in an astronaut costume, while pupils dressed in black lead a huge weather balloon across to the rugby pitch while the entirety of school, including teachers, formed a human FSL shape.

“The next few hours were spent tracking the capsule. Everything was going to plan, and when the GPS revealed that the capsule had landed in the Irish Sea and was quickly drifting towards the NI coast. Boat rescue missions were attempted, but all made in vain. The capsule was just out of our grasp, and the waves out at sea made spotting the rocket an impossible task.

“An English family had discovered a mysterious object amongst the rocks when looking for driftwood in Scotland. The mission was back on, and a team comprising of Peter Ferguson, Ben McKee, Martyn Bothwell, Jessica Peel and Matt Good accompanied Mr McKay, Mr Gamble and Mr Robinson embarked on a very sudden rescue mission.”

With the capsule rescued, work began to piece together the video that would soon be sweeping social media.

The principal of Friends’ School, Mrs Elizabeth Dickson, said she was impressed by the finished product. “There was great excitement in school on the day that the weather balloon, carrying the capsule holding the Friends’ School flag and the two GoPro cameras to film the journey, was launched into space,” she said.

“The idea of an astronaut going up into space captured the imagination of the whole school community. A great deal of work took place in planning the launch of the weather balloon and very many pupils were involved in recording the countdown prior to lift off.

“Once again, Stephen Robinson and Matt Good have demonstrated their ingenuity and flair and there can only be huge admiration for the creativity and skill of all involved.”