Columbus Academy, long accustomed to distinguished guests, welcomed another one last week.

Columbus Academy, long accustomed to distinguished guests, welcomed another one last week.

John Glenn, the former U.S. senator, visited the school, but the trip was not about politics; it was all about space.

It started with Jack Chatas. His fifth-grade science class was going through a section on space and was looking for an expert.

Chatas asked his grandfather, Jack Kessler, who happened to know an expert. John Glenn visited the class recently and spent 50 minutes answering questions.

Jack Chatas got to introduce him to the class. "It has been a big year in space," Chatas said. The class had been studying the subject, particularly the shuttle.

In October 1998, Glenn flew into space in the shuttle Discovery. Of course, the former Marine fighter pilot also was the first American to orbit the earth -- in 1962 in Friendship 7.

"It was a big deal to have John Glenn come to class," Chatas said. "He was really interesting, and he was a really nice guy."

"He answered questions on space only, but not on politics," said Katie, Jack's mother. They and father Geoff have lived in New Albany for 14 years.

She said Glenn answered questions on space from the students and teachers who made it into the classroom.

"He was very approachable," Katie said. Glenn answered question after question, she said. Many students wanted to shake his hand and have a photograph taken with him, she said.

After he was finished, several Upper Class students saw Glenn and "ran after him," Katie said. Again, Glenn shook hands in the parking lot.

Asked what he plans to do to top this accomplishment, Chatas said he doesn't know. He just knew that it had been a "great day."

His friends agreed, he said. "They said, 'Good job.'"