The Challenger Center Hawaii (CCHI) celebrated its 25th anniversary today with special guests Claude Onizuka and June Scobee Rodgers, founding director of the Challenger Center and widow of Challenger Shuttle Commander Dick Scobee. The Center is located at Barbers Point Elementary School and is operated by the Hawaii State Department of Education with additional funding support from the non-profit organization Friends of Challenger Center Hawaii.
"We lost the beloved Challenger Crew but we didn't lose the mission, that's what was so important. NASA will continue the space mission. I will continue the education mission," said Rodgers. "We have more than 50 Challenger Centers around the world and I want to share that Hawaii is the leader in education. This state has the best education plan out of any Challenger Center I have visited and we're excited to showcase that to the rest of the world."
The festivities included a proclamation signing with Governor David Ige and the unveiling of the winning mission patch design commemorating the 25th anniversary. More than 290 students from grades 6-8 entered the contest and 12 finalists were selected. The winning patch, which was selected by online votes, was designed by Jacob Favela, grade 6, Holomua Elementary School. Second place winner was Nanea Lau, grade 6, Moanalua Elementary School and third place winner was Leesha Bernabe, grade 6, Holomua Elementary School.
"The message I wanted to convey in the patch design is that great minds working together with optimism, peace and aloha can achieve anything. I wanted to remind other students that they can reach their goals if they are determined and work hard at it, just like astronaut Ellison Onizuka," shared Jared Favela.
Hawaii teachers who have been with the CCHI program for 20 or more years were also honored during the anniversary celebration. Educators recognized from public and private schools included:
Wendell Thomas, CCHI staff, 25 years
Carolyn Dunn, St. Elizabeth School, 24 years
Diane Awana, Mililani Middle School, 23 years
Jay Hamura, St. Andrew's Priory, 22 years
Karin Larson, Jarrett Middle School, 21 years
Samuel Hankins, Kawananakoa Middle School, 21 years
Michael Nishiki, Mililani Middle School, 21 years
Todd Tashiro, Momilani Elementary School, 21 years
Lynn Yoshioka, Mililani Middle School, 21 years
Carrie Hata, Mililani Middle School, 20 years
Glory Ann Kama, Mililani Middle School, 20 years
Yvonne Kauihou, Mililani Middle School, 20 years
Amy Kim, Mililani Middle School, 20 years
Paul Sasaki, Mililani Middle School, 20 years
Laurie Sogawa, Mililani Middle School, 20 years
"Our Center has provided hands on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) curriculum to thousands of students over the past 25 years, and we look forward to continuing to teach the next generation of students that the wonders of the cosmos are within their reach," added Liane Kim, director, Challenger Center Hawaii.
CCHI opened in 1993 is and part of a network of learning centers established by the Challenger Center for Space Science Education. The facility houses a realistic Mission Control modeled after NASA's Johnson Space Center and a futuristic Space Station with many of the same elements found on an actual spacecraft.
As a NASA Regional Educator Resource Center, CCHI is the only learning center in the state that serves as a middle school application and assessment site for the national Common Core Mathematics and Language Arts Standards, Hawaii Content and Performance Standards III and General Learner Outcomes.
"This center has a profound impact on our students," said Superintendent Dr. Christina Kishimoto. "It reminds students that the possibilities in their futures are endless."
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