You may have noticed quite a few people wearing a gray shirt showing a single finger pointing toward the moon. The shirt bears the letters “ISP.” One question you might have asked upon seeing this is “What the heck is ISP?”
ISP stands for the Indian Space Program. It is a group of friends—seniors Rishov Dutta, Mihir Punji, Hung-Wei Chuang, Arjun Sreeram, Andrew Marfistin, and Teja Madala—who have maintained an inside joke for over a year: that the group, whose slogan is “to the moon,” represents a space program aiming to land on the moon.
The group was founded last year in physics class. “We were doing a lab to prove that the acceleration of an object due to gravity was 9.8 m/s^2; however, we proved it wrong. Yes, we proved years of science wrong with a crude high school experiment,” senior Mihir Punji said. “Astonished by this, we decided to fudge the results in order to get 9.8 m/s^2. Another group saw this, and also saw that we were mostly Indians, and decided to say ‘this is why India will never get to the moon.’ Thus, we formed the Indian Space Program in order to fulfill our dreams along with the dreams of others.”
Over the last few months, the group has achieved a sort of cult status at North. Earlier this school year, it sold 100 t-shirts, donating the proceeds to the Breakthrough Collaborative of Greater Philadelphia, which focuses on supporting inner-city kids as they progess through the eductional system. “I am an advocate! They’re so inclusive of everyone who wants to join and although they may not have the resources to build any space crafts, they are donating money to good causes,” senior Akshitha Dondapati said.
“I don’t know a lot about ISP, but I just see it as an absolutely random, spontaneous, and fantastic thing,” senior Anna Mehrabyan said. “More than anything, it’s just people sharing the fact that they’re friends, and that’s just a fundamentally good thing.” “The members of ISP are charming and charismatic, and these characteristics are the reason why ISP has grown to be such a popular organization,” junior Vineeth Amba said.
Chaung, who remained in character during his conversation with The Knightly News, said he hopes ISP will someday surpass NASA. “They may have better education, better funding, and better equipment, but we have more heart,” Chuang said. But in reality, ISP is a group of friends hoping to stick together. “It allowed me get the chance to know four awesome people who, I’ll be honest, without the common goal of reaching the moon, I might not have had that chance,” Punji said.
Asked about the group’s donations to the Philadelphia charity group, Punji replied, “Why do we want to support them? So that they can get to the moon as well.”