Youngsters Pay Tribute to Shuttle Crew


Eight-year-old Cody Bowen learned from his father about New Hampshire teacher Christa McAuliffe and the six other astronauts who died in the Challenger explosion 10 years ago Sunday.

“He said she wanted to go into space and reach her dreams, but she didn’t make it,” Cody said.

On Thursday, Cody was among a handful of students at Christa McAuliffe School in Oxnard chosen to read essays with the theme “The Challenge Continues” before schoolmates in a tribute to their school’s namesake.


The school is one of more than 100 across the nation named for America’s first civilian to attempt space flight. The school’s construction was being planned when the rocket exploded Jan. 28, 1986, said Principal Dennis Johnson.

The Oxnard school board decided to change the name of the new school from Seaport to Christa McAuliffe when classes started in 1989, Johnson said. On Thursday, Johnson unveiled a new portrait of McAuliffe that will hang in the school’s lobby with 10 other pictures of the spacecraft and its ill-fated crew.

All week, students have been writing essays to commemorate the upcoming anniversary, Johnson said. First-grader Taylor Jones told the assembly that his challenge is to obtain a black belt in karate.

And Erika Walker, 8, wrote a paper that was more philosophical: “You can keep your hopes up and that’s what I think is a challenge.”

Cody’s short presentation included this passage: “After she died, they named our school after her. . . . I will try to help her dream stay alive.”

Students also sang school songs, including one titled “Some People Reach For Rainbows.”

“There’s a lesson to be learned here.

As hard as it might seem,

they died in serving all mankind,

living out our dream.”