They left Missouri as a group of kids who liked to build rockets. They came home international champions.

The Festus High School Rocket Club traveled to Paris, France last week for the International Rocketry Challenge. The club, which includes 10 students, competed against teams from France, Japan, and the United Kingdom.

The competition included building a rocket, then launching it to a certain altitude and getting it to land within a certain amount of time, all while protecting a raw egg inside the rocket.

The students from Festus earned first place.

“Nine of these ten kids are all brand new to this this year, and they’re on top of the world, literally, right now,” said Devin Lorenz, the club’s sponsor and a teacher at the high school.

While in France, the students also got to attend the International Paris Air Show, which is an important event for the aviation and space industries.

Rising senior, Joel Marler, said it was the best part of his trip. He is considering a career in aerospace engineering.

Marler and the other students flew home Sunday and found a welcome party waiting for them in Festus. First responders gave their bus an escort through town, and community members lined the road to the high school to cheer and wave signs.

“We’re just thankful for all the support, it really feels great,” Marler said.

“That’s what education is all about,” said Dr. Link Luttrell, Superintendent for Festus R-VI schools. “Creating those opportunities that lead to memorable experiences that they are going to remember for a lifetime and help them in their future careers. And I think this was… definitely going to help them do that.”

The team was sponsored by The Raytheon Company. To read more about the competition, visit the Aerospace Industries Association’s website.